No Changes for Now after Construction Noise Complaints

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A discussion about the city’s noise ordinance relating to construction sites didn’t result in any changes Tuesday, despite recent complaints from residents.

Members of the council’s Law and Public Safety Committee Tuesday agreed to report the issue back to council with no action.

The committee received the item for discussion after neighbors complained about the Stanhope development. The mixed-use high-rise building near Hillsborough Street is being built to accommodate about 1,000 students. Police have been called several times to the site, where construction crews were found working outside the city’s allowed hours of 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The city imposes a first-time fine of $100 and subsequent fines of $300 per infraction for the noise.

Deputy Inspections Director Curt Willis said such fines are no deterrent for crews who face harsher penalties if they don’t complete the work by the Aug. 10 deadline.

However, there have been no complaints since the committee first heard about the issue in February.

Councilor and Committee Chair Mary-Ann Baldwin said the committee’s assignment is the bigger picture — not the specific problems around Stanhope.

“I feel the appropriate thing to do might be … report this out no action taken with the noise, because we found that there were no noise issues related to this case,” she said.

Councilor Thomas Crowder said as Raleigh’s density increases downtown, construction noise violations might become an issue.

“As we see more urban densities taking place, we have more construction,” said Crowder, whose district includes Stanhope.

Crowder said the community should not have to suffer from “improper planning” by developers willing to pay the fines to meet deadlines.

Committee members discussed increasing the fines, but such changes would apply to all noise violations, including parties and nightclubs. Baldwin said it’s a chicken-and-egg matter of deciding whether to solve a problem before it occurs, or after.

“There’s been two instances of this occurring,” she said. “I don’t see a huge need at this point to do anything differently. However, if as Mr. Crowder says, as we start developing more densely then we probably would need to look at that if it became a problem.”

They also suggested arresting the offending parties, but police officers at the meeting said they’d prefer to avoid it. Police said most Raleigh noise violations occur at house parties near North Carolina State University. Those people are issued civil citations, not criminal.

Deputy City Attorney Dottie Leapley said in extreme cases, the city could seek a civil injunction from the state superior court to stop construction.

Baldwin said she’d prefer to get a sense from the full council on whether they want to address the larger issue of changes to the noise ordinance before moving forward.

“That’s really not what this [committee agenda item] was about,” she said.

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