City begins process to amend noise ordinance

Proposal would limit loud noise after 10 p.m. weekdays, midnight weekends in downtown Round Rock

The Round Rock City Council is considering a proposal to strengthen 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.

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.

The proposal would amend the current noise ordinance. The proposal 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 200 feet away, assuming the the source of the noise (amplified speakers) is 25 feet inside the property line.

You can find noise level charts that provide examples of various decibel levels here, here and here.

City staff will reach out to area businesses and residents for their input on the proposal. The City will also take input via email at noise@roundrocktexas.gov.

An open house meeting on the proposal has been scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Baca Center dining room, 301 W. Bagdad Ave., Building 2.

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