Streetsboro -- City leaders are trying to determine if Streetsboro's noise ordinance needs to be modified after the police department received numerous complaints recently about people riding motorcycles and dirt bikes late at night.
Law Director David Maistros said at the Oct. 14 City Council meeting that people are prohibited from riding motorcycles and dirt bikes in the city between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. He said he believes the complaints were based on how often motorcycle-dirt bike riding was taking place and that it was occurring on weekends.
"Many of the complaints we get are after hours," Maistros said. "It's not uncommon to get a call at 11 or 12 at night."
Council President Tim Claypoole proposed and Council unanimously approved asking the city administration for a recommendation as to how and whether the noise ordinance should change.
"I am no expert on noise ordinances," Claypoole said. "It sounds like the law director and the police department may be the best ones to really craft what is an enforceable noise ordinance."
Maistros has not given a specific timetable as to when a recommendation on the noise ordinance will be completed.
Police Chief Roy Mosley III said the city's current noise ordinance is "very subjective."
He said the current "unlawful noise ordinance" does not address decibel levels in any of the sections.
"As a result, there are no permissible or non-permissible 'levels,' per se," he said.
In one example involving "radio and stereo musical instruments," he said the ordinance language states if it is "plainly audible on a property or in a dwelling unit other than that which it is located, it is a violation of that section.
"It's difficult for our officers to enforce it at times," Mosley said. "It covers a very wide spectrum. We're trying to enforce loud music from cars, motorcycles and noise from parties."
Maistros said the city uses a sound level meter, but not all police officers are trained to use it. Police officers do not use the sound meters, he said, because the current unlawful noise ordinance, which has been in place since 1993, "is not structured to require the formal measurement of decibel levels."
Council member Bridget Pavlick said her concern is, there have been instances "where we found out the perpetrator was well within compliance with the noise ordinance. That doesn't alleviate someone's problem when they're having issues. I know we can't resolve everything. We have a balance between being able to use your property and complying with laws that are in effect."
Pavlick said she doesn't think city leaders "should have a knee-jerk reaction to what is going on."
"Maybe we could find a better balance between somebody who is not violating [the law] but is a nuisance," Pavlick said. "I don't know that we'll be able to do that, but that is my concern.
"If we can work in this instance with all the property owners and work that out, that would be better for us as a city than modifying an ordinance that already exists," Pavlick said.
Maistros agreed, saying, "A lot of times, it is neighbors working with each other to find that balance. I'm more than willing to try [to find a solution]. We have tried. I just don't know if we can get there."
Council member Julie Sanders said motorcycle-dirt bike riding late at night should be restricted.
"If they're doing it late at night, I can see [that would be a problem]," she said, adding that motorcycles or dirt bikes may bother young school children who are going to bed early. "But in the daytime, if they want to ride their motorcycles on a half-acre lot, that's fine with me. I don't want to get too picky with this."
Maistros said one problem is there are large and small lot sizes.
"Some people have a lot of space and other people live in sub-divisions where the neighbors are coming and going," Maistros said. "To try and fit in an ordinance that is going to satisfy everyone is not going to happen. Ultimately, it's difficult to try to prohibit one neighbor from doing what they enjoy doing on their property at the expense of another neighbor who doesn't like listening to it."
Council member Julie Field suggested requiring permits for having dirt bike tracks on properties. Permits, she said, would allow city officials to examine what kind of neighborhood the track would be in.
"It is definitely subjective," Field said. "That's why I believe we need something more defined, but not overly defined at the same time."
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