Moorestown council discusses crackdown on disruptive noise

Council discusses measures to alleviate complaints from residents.

It’s nearly summer, and with it comes a distinct soundtrack all its own.

With the sounds of lawnmowers and construction on the horizon, Moorestown Council broached the subject of noise complaints and what measures it could take to address them.

Mayor Nicole Gillespie said the township has received three types of noise complaints: construction, landscaping and noise from commercial properties that can be heard at residential properties.

As it currently stands, the township does not have specific language about noise on the books.

It does have a nuisance ordinance, but the language is vague and does not specifically address noise violations. Gillespie said that makes it difficult for the township to act on noise complaints.

“When residents make complaints about noise from commercial properties, there’s not much we can do,” she said. “Our hands are kind of tied on that.”

Gillespie said the township now has three options: to expand its nuisance ordinance, work with the county to enforce the state’s noise laws or create a noise ordinance that would have to be approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Township Solicitor Kevin Aberant said if the township passed its own noise ordinance, it could be enforced by the police department. New Jersey law requires that police purchase a meter capable of measuring sound that could cost somewhere between $1,000 to $2,500. The township would also have to have someone trained to operate the meter. 

Councilman David Zipin said he wasn’t keen on the idea of residents tying up the non-emergency police line to report noise violations. On top of that, he noted that the township would need to get multiple people certified to operate the meter, so noise violations could be recorded and enforced at any time of the day.

Zipin suggested amending the current nuisance ordinance to include time- and activity-based language restricting noise, such as the hours when residents could mow their lawns.

Gillespie asked Aberant if such restrictions could be put in place according to zoning, using the example of limiting certain noise within 200 feet of residential zones. Aberant said that could all be done within the current ordinance. 

Aberant said he would take a look at some of the neighboring municipalities’ nuisance ordinances and have something for the council to review at an upcoming meeting.