The Round Rock City Council is considering a proposal to amend the City’s noise ordinance to more effectively address loud music late at night in the downtown area. The amendment seeks to find balance between an active downtown with live music and quality of life for downtown residents.
Why is an amendment to the noise ordinance necessary?
Beginning in spring 2018, police began more actively enforcing the noise ordinance and City staff began monitoring noise levels at various locations downtown. We determined the City’s current noise ordinance, which measures sound 200 feet from the property line of the source of noise, has not been effective in addressing the problem.
About the proposal
The proposal would add a new section to the current noise ordinance. The amendment would impose stricter standards to the Mixed Use 1 (MU-1) zoning district in downtown. By requiring noise measurement at the property line, the ordinance will be easier for Police to enforce, and it will reduce the levels of sound reaching residences as well as limit the times when outdoor music can be played.
The amendment, which applies only to the MU-1 district, would require outdoor music venues to apply for a permit. The amendment defines an outdoor music venue as a commercial property where sound equipment is used to amplify sound that is: not fully enclosed by permanent, solid walls and a roof; or allowed to project out of an exterior doorway that is routinely opened.
Permit holders would be required to follow the time of day restrictions below:
- They shall not operate sound equipment in excess of 80 decibels as measured at the property line of the business from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and from 10 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
- At all other times, permit holders shall not operate sound equipment in excess of 50 decibels as measured at the property line of the business.
Repeated violations of the new section of the noise ordinance would result in the loss of the permit for a period of 12 months.
Currently, noise cannot exceed 75 decibels from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., measured from 200 feet from the property line, in the MU-1 district.
To give an example of the practical difference in the current ordinance and proposed amendment:
- Noise that measures 75 dB 200 feet from a property line (current ordinance) would measure 89 dB at the property line, assuming the source of the noise (amplified speakers) is 25 feet inside the property line.
- Noise that measures 80 dB at the property line (proposed amendment) would measure 61 dB at 200 feet away, assuming the the source of the noise (amplified speakers) is 25 feet inside the property line.
To put those noise levels in perspective, 90db is equivalent to a lawn mower; 80dB is equivalent to an alarm clock or garbage disposal; 75 dB is equivalent to a vacuum cleaner; 60 dB is equivalent to conversational speech or an air conditioner. You can find noise level charts that provide additional examples of various decibel levels here, here and here.
The maps below provide an example scenario depicting a noise source originating 25 feet from a property line measuring 80 decibel levels at the property line vs. a noise source originating from the same location that measures 75 decibels 200 feet from the property line. As you can see, the current ordinance restriction yields higher decibel levels over a much greater area than the proposed ordinance amendment.
We’ve provided an interactive graph to illustrate the difference in decibel levels over distance between the old ordinance and proposed new ordinance standards. With both ordinances, the distance from the property line that a noise originates from is an important variable in determining decibel levels over distance beyond the property line. The interactive graph provides an interactive slider that allows adjustment of the noise source from the property line to illustrate this effect and compare the old ordinance vs. the proposed new ordinance.
Input via email — This document includes input received through emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, listed in the order received, through Jan. 16. Note: Two emails have been added that were initially blocked by security filters
Input at Open House — This documents includes all written comments received at the Jan. 15 open house meeting
The following dates are set for discussion and implementation:
Jan. 8 — City Council to receive update on process at packet briefing
Jan. 15 — Open house meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Baca Center dining room, 301 W. Bagdad Ave., Building 2
Feb. 14 — First reading of ordinance and City Council vote
Have input for the City Council and staff? Email email@example.com.