Critics: Noise ordinance is unsound judgment

Greg MassPost Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – An ordinance banning noisy modifications to vehicle mufflers was approved on first reading Thursday by City Council.But car racing enthusiasts and motorcycle riders could be among those who oppose final passage of the ordinance at council’s next meeting, on May 1.According to city attorney Karl Hanlon, the idea behind the restriction, already part of Colorado state law, is to allow Glenwood Springs police to ticket drivers whose vehicles have “excessive or unusual noise.” The infractions would be prosecuted in Glenwood Springs Municipal Court. Without a city noise ordinance, any ticket written under the state statute would be prosecuted in county court, with higher chances of charges being dropped, Hanlon said. The city’s new ordinance is a primary offense – meaning drivers can be pulled over strictly for having a loud vehicle without breaking any other laws. It’s classified as a traffic infraction, comparable to having a broken headlight, and wouldn’t add points to a driver’s license, Hanlon said.At Thursday’s meeting, mechanic Dave Dreith and Aspen Valley Harley-Davidson manager Bob Snyder said enforcement of the law will be subjective. Unless sound level meters are used, enforcement would be based on a police officer’s opinion of what’s noisy. Snyder also expressed concern over the city’s haste in passing the ordinance.”I hate to be told it’s going to be run through the city council without discussion,” Snyder said. “We’ve been good citizens to you folks, and I hate to get ramrodded. I really don’t like it.”Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson tried to ease Snyder’s apprehension, telling him the law will be enforced fairly.”I think it’s all a question of reasonableness,” Wilson said. Councilman Larry Emery, one of two council members to vote against the ordinance, said it prohibits any muffler modification, even those that barely increase engine noise.”It is the `excessively or unusually loud’ part that we should pay attention to,” Wilson said. Chris Grey, manager of Advanced Sound and Performance in Glenwood Springs, said he opposes the ordinance because muffler modification is a large part of his business.”They’re going to upset a lot of people,” he said. “I’m very concerned about it.”Hanlon said the ordinance was requested by council because there have been many noise complaints from city residents. He said the lion’s share of the complaints have been prompted by loud mufflers at Aspen Valley Harley-Davidson.”It’s been a problem since that shop opened,” Hanlon said. “Neighbors have consistently complained.””If it’s such a problem, why wasn’t anyone from the community at the meeting?” Snyder asked, referring to Thursday’s council meeting.During the meeting, members of council agreed that Snyder should talk to Wilson and Hanlon about the ordinance and consider possible changes before the ordinance gets its second reading on May 1. In other business, City Council:-Noted that Glenwood Springs was recognized as a Tree City USA for the 18th straight year. -Received a report on the services provided by Mountain Regional Housing Corporation. Council will consider donating money to the nonprofit corporation at its May 1 meeting. -Awarded a $48,000 contract to Greenlawn Sod Co. for the city’s new park near Sopris Elementary. -Discussed how to promote and create incentives for voluntary use of water-conserving devices.-Discussed the creation of an ordinance that would outlaw aggressive solicitation. -Approved an ordinance amending the city’s Downtown Design Standards. Contact Greg Mass: 945-8515, ext.

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