Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Council leaves police to address loud noises

Celina's disorderly conduct law will be used for time being

By Leslie Gartrell
CELINA - City council members on Monday evening decided the Celina Police Department will enforce zoning code noise limits under the city's disorderly conduct law for the time being.
City officials for several months have grappled with establishing reasonable noise limits that balance the interests of businesses and residents.
During a committee of the whole meeting, city law director George Moore reiterated that council members could do away with the sections in the zoning code regarding noise and exemptions and rely on the city's disorderly conduct law that also covers unreasonable noise, modify the decibel limits or do nothing.
Celina police chief Tom Wale said his department in 2020 received 101 noise complaints, which he said overwhelmingly involved neighbors complaining about neighbors, usually at night.
City safety service director Tom Hitchcock said the city's engineering department received 20 complaints about commercial or industrial facilities violating the city's noise limits last year.
Hitchcock proposed allowing the police department to handle noise violations under the city's disorderly conduct law, which Wale said he was agreeable to.
If complaints are lodged against a business or business owner, Wale said he would consult with officials at the engineer's department before handing a case over to a prosecutor.
The decision comes as the Super Wash on East Market Street earlier this month had one of its car wash bays temporarily shut down after city engineering officials, using a decibel reader, found the site to be in violation of noise limits, Hitchcock said. The car wash, located in a business district, abuts a residential area.
The investigation and enforcement were complaint driven.
City council members also in early July received a petition signed by 10 property owners on Lake and Vine streets requesting an enforcement of the city's noise limits on the Super Wash. That formal request resulted in the investigation and temporary shut down of one of the car wash's bays.
The city's zoning code contains limits ranging from 50 to 70 decibels depending on where the source of the noise is located - in a residential, commercial or industrial district - and the zoning or type of property where the noise is heard.
Daytime exceptions to the sound limits include firearms on authorized ranges, legal blasting, temporary construction activity, utility installation, lawn mowers, chainsaws and garden equipment.
A commercial property operating between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. is allowed to generate noise that can be up to 55 decibels when heard at a residential property and 60 decibels when heard at a commercial or industrial property.
Hitchcock brought a decibel meter to the meeting. Councilors Eric Clausen and Myron Buxton noted the decibel reading was 60 decibels when they spoke. Clausen suggested looking at a zoning code similar to one Columbus has on the books, which uses an average decibel reading taken over an extended period of time.
In other business, council members passed on final reading an ordinance that will establish new rates for electricity sales and provide bill credits for users that have city-approved on-site renewable energy generation.
The electric rate reduction is part of a multifaceted plan to reduce a $12 million collection surplus.
Residential changes will be reflected as follows: Residential urban customers would pay a monthly customer charge of $16 - an increase of $2 - and a kilowatts per hour energy charge of 0.095 cents - a decrease of 0.00719 cents.
Residential rural customers would pay a monthly customer charge of $17 - an increase of $2.30 - and a kilowatts per hour energy charge of 0.1 cents, a decrease of 0.0073 cents.
Users also would continue paying an energy acquisition adjustment (EAA). The EAA reflects the extra costs of providing power to city customers, whether because of increasing supply, transmission or other expenses.
The ordinance also allows for customers with solar or wind energy capability to receive billing credits for excess energy generation. Users delivering energy back into the city's system would be credited 0.054 cents per kilowatt hour for solar power and 0.028 cents per kilowatt hour for wind power.
Customers with approved renewable generation must enter into an interconnection standard for installation and parallel operation with the city.
Councilman Mike Sovinski noted customers who generate their own solar power would not be charged for their own power generation.
Additionally, the bill reflects a nominal EAA credit of a quarter of a cent per kilowatt hour. The EAA credit will extend at least through the end of the year, according to city officials.
Industrial substation service urban customers on the other hand would pay a monthly base customer charge of $200. That would rise to $500 a month by 2021. During that same time period, kilowatts per hour would decrease from 0.0462 cent to 0.0267 cent per hour. They would also be charged a monthly demand charge that would increase from $15 an hour in 2018 to $21 in 2021.
In addition, council members gave first reading to an ordinance authorizing the city to enter into a contract with Celina City Schools for the purpose of a school resource officer.
The contract will run from Aug. 1, 2021 through May 31, 2024. Celina City Schools will pay 75% of the school resource officer's total compensation and benefits, while the city will pay for 25%. The school district also will cover 100% of all costs associated with school resource officer training, according to the contract.
The school resource officer will be paid at a rate of $26.08 per hour for the 2021-2022 school year. The total cost of the contract for the 2021-2022 school year including wages and benefits is $91,233, with Celina City Schools paying $68,424.75 and the city paying $22,808.25.
Council members also,
• heard first reading of an ordinance accepting a donation from the Celina Moose Lodge 1473 for the Celina Fire Department for iPad Pro 11 pads and appropriating funds.
• heard first reading of a resolution accepting a $100 donation from Princess Sue Hess to the Celina Police Department.
The city council meets next at 7 p.m. Aug. 9 in the council chambers. A committee of the whole meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 in the council chambers to discuss permitting or prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries and pharmacies within the city, followed by a park board meeting.
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