Council passes noise ordinance amendment on final vote

The Round Rock City Council approved a proposal to strengthen the City’s noise ordinance on second and final reading at its March 14 meeting to more effectively address loud music late at night in the downtown area.

The amendment to the current noise ordinance seeks to find balance between an active downtown with live music and quality of life for downtown residents by imposing stricter standards to the Mixed Use 1 (MU-1) zoning district in downtown. The ordinance amendment will take effect on April 15, 2019.

Beginning in spring 2018, police began more actively enforcing the noise ordinance and City staff began monitoring noise levels at various locations downtown. Staff determined the City’s current noise ordinance, which measures sound 200 feet from the property line of the source of noise, had not been effective in addressing the problem.

In addition to limiting the time when outdoor music can be played, the ordinance amendment states that noise measurements would be taken at the property line, making it easier for police to enforce while reducing the levels of sound reaching residences.

The amendment requires outdoor music venues within the MU-1 district to apply for a permit. An outdoor music venue is defined 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 will 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 60 decibels as measured at the property line of the business.

Repeated violations of the new section of the noise ordinance will 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.

City staff reached out to area businesses and residents for input on the proposal and held an open house at the beginning of the year.

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