County Votes to Approve Ordinance Targeting Excessive Noise

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A team of Dryad property owners voiced their grievances with excessive noise generated by motorcycle racing during a public hearing Monday before the Lewis County Board of Commissioners approved a new ordinance intended to curtail such disturbances.  

Following the vote Commissioner Edna Fund communicated that they will listen to everyone’s concerns regarding the noise ordinance in the interest of everyone has a “good place to live.” 

Susi Schulte was one of several residents in the area of Meskill Road near Rainbow Falls State Park who asked the Lewis County Commissioners to expand the time range in which individuals are forbidden from producing excessive noise disturbances from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. by making sure those restrictions are enforced at all hours of the day. 

The commission has been debating the merits of expanding law enforcement officers’ ability to curtail noise nuisances in communities for several months. 

“These motorcycle races are being practiced frequently and are being held on holidays and weekends from morning to night with two breaks in between,” reported Schulte. “The noise is very loud and is interfering and disturbing normal activities. I am unable to have a conversation on my deck and even unable to hold a conversation inside my own home.” 

She and others who gave testimony at the commission meeting Monday indicated the bikes in question are being operated with no mufflers. They said racing sessions often involve 50 or more bikes racing at the same time. 

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that the racing has only gotten worse since she first moved to the area shortly after her retirement four years ago. 

“I just want a nice, peaceful place for my senior years. And this was the opposite of what I had dreamed of. I can’t even feel I can be outside when they’re running, the volume of the noise is so horrific. I can’t even be outside with my horses doing anything from this point on because they’re spooked.” 

Other residents who commented at Monday’s public hearing included Duane Brown and Alan Nicholas from the Rush Road area in Napavine. They also argued for 24-hour noise restrictions, complaining of “booming” music that they often hear throughout the day. Brown, in particular, pointed out that people who work night shifts also need noise enforcement in the daytime since it’s the only time they can rest. 

Senior Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cullen Gatten explained that the language of the ordinance can be modified in the future based on the “the character of the county.” 

“This is a starting point for us,” Commissioner Bobby Jackson added. “This is a living document. We can make adjustments as we go.” 

A first time violator under the ordinance would be subject to a $50 fine plus statutory assessments, Gatten said. A second violation within a 12-month period would require the offender to pay a $150 fine plus statutory assessments. A third violation in the same year would result in a criminal misdemeanor punishable with a $1,000 fine or up to 90 days in jail. 

“We’ve identified several specific instances in which something would be a disturbance, and that is, essentially, frequent, repetitive or continuous noise that can be heard from a public roadway or a neighboring property from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” said Gatten. 

He reminded the crowd that decibel readings wouldn’t be used to assess public disturbance levels. 

Noises addressed by the ordinance could include honking, mechanical work, shouting, yelling, hooting, whistling, singing, operating audio equipment or discharging firearms outside of an enclosed shooting range, Gatten said. Fireworks, he said, will be handled in a separate ordinance that will be “forthcoming.” 

Exempted from restrictions are official parades, commerce, mining, blasting, agriculture, temporary maintenance projects and emergency services.