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Council considering loading dock noise limits

SNOHOMISH — The City Council weighed its options last week on cutting down late-night noise at businesses that has reportedly disturbed nearby residents for years, and chose to bring it back
within the next month for public input.
The council is looking to amend the city code on noise regulation to extend to commercial businesses, with an eye on creating time restrictions to limit overnight deliveries.
What sparked this was a series of complaints from neighbors that live near stores such as Fred Meyer, Home Depot and Haggen. Neighbors who reside behind Fred Meyer have pushed hardest for change.
Each morning around 5 a.m. the neigbors near Fred Meyer say they are awoken to the beeping sound of delivery semi-trucks, forklifts, slamming pallets, doors and yelling. Even on Sundays.
The noise will continue, neighbors
told City Council, until well after 10, sometimes 11 p.m. or later at night. They say complaining directly to the businesses isn’t making a difference.
“I don’t think businesses need to be absolutely quiet, but I would like them to consider their neighbors respectfully … they aren’t going to do that unless they’re made to,” said Suzanne Davis, who lives behind Haggen and said she gets woken up at 1 a.m. or 5 a.m. by loading dock noise from delivery trucks.
Neighbors Shawn Gay and Cheryl Mazurek who live behind Fred Meyer have been talking to the city about the noise issues for months.
At first, the city was reluctant to get into the debate, instead choosing to facilitate phone calls between neighbors and Fred Meyer. It didn’t work out.
Next, the council discussed earlier this summer doing nothing and letting
the neighbors handle negotiations and talks with the businesses directly. Mayor Tom Hamilton brought the issue back to City Council
and called for looking into amending the city code on noise violations, since the code currently does not specifically address noise generated from commercial business.
After hearing more from the neighbors, the council decided to take in more input from the public at a later date to figure out which route
to go. Three options were presented to City Council by city attorney Grant Weed, who recommended amending the city’s public nuisance code
because it covers a wider breadth on types of noises.
If the nuisance code is repeatedly violated, the city can file against the offender in state Supreme Court, Weed said.
Councilmembers were
interested in regulating the hours for operations such as deliveries and unloading goods.
“That’s really what we’re talking about, deliveries —that’s really the basis for
a lot of this noise,” said City Councilman Michael Rohrscheib. He asked Weed if it were possible to limit or restrict commercial deliveries from happening between certain hours.
Hamilton agreed that restricting the hours of quiet-time could be the key.
Councilwoman Karen Guzak was also supportive of restricting operating hours at night, but said the people will decide via the upcoming public process.
“We will find out through a public hearing what people want,” Guzak said.

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