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Headway may come soon in Snohomish on late night noise

SNOHOMISH — After a two-year crusade for quieter nights, residents near supermarkets may soon get their wish for a stronger city noise resrictions law.
The city sent out a draft of the ordinance at the end of June after efforts to gain voluntary compliance with one of the grocery stores stalled. The noise ordinance will be discussed at the July 17 City Council meeting at 6 p.m. at 1601 Ave. D. Any action on the ordinance will happen at a later date.
The proposal restricts business noise between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Sundays. It also makes it easy for officers to enforce the law.
Residents had complained about the cacophony of trucks backing into loading docks, crates rattling around, whirring street sweepers and more.
“We think it’s fantastic. It’s strong and enforcement will be strong,” said Shawn Gay, who has appeared at several City Council meetings to argue for the ordinance. She lives near Fred Meyer.
Sue Davis, who lives near Haggen supermarket, agreed.
Under the proposed amendment, police officers could issue a citation if two people in separate houses complain about noise within 24 hours, rather than a police officer having to hear the noise.
Also, “they’re not making it decibel-related, you don’t have to get out a decibel meter,” Davis said.
The new penalties are higher and escalate faster. Businesses could face a $250 fine on the first violation, $500 after that, and could be charged with a criminal misdemeanor if there are three violations in a 12 month period.
Gay did have one concern she currently considers a deal-breaker.
“The proposed hours are not acceptable to us,” she said. “Our children deserve more than eight hours of quiet time.”
She said the hours favored Fred Meyer and were less restrictive than current voluntary quiet hours, which are 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. seven days a week.
Gay said she considers minimum acceptable hours to be from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and later on Sundays.
Even before the proposed ordinance reaches City Council, both women say the voluntary compliance with quiet hours during the past few months has improved.
“I’m getting enough sleep now and feel like it’s probably been, oh gee, five or six years since I’ve had a really good night’s sleep,” Davis said.
Haggen spokeswoman Deborah Pleva said the Snohomish store has “made significant changes in their receiving times, starting at 7 a.m. instead of 4:30 a.m. and not having any trucks coming after 10 p.m. In fact most days, they are done receiving before 8 p.m. This requires ongoing education of vendors and delivery drivers, but we’re committed to being good neighbors. Reducing our receiving hours does present some challenges to our business operations, but we’ve made it work,” said in an email.
Davis and Gay are still grateful the new ordinance will ensure all businesses are held to the new noise standard: one discovery after the supermarket noise settled down was that some of the bothersome noise actually emanated from other nearby businesses. The post office was one of the hidden noisemakers.
The proposed new restrictions do carry a few caveats: Planes and trains are exempt, but also school marching bands, in or out of tune.



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