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Old 03-12-2012, 12:17 PM   #1
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Location: Boynton Beach, FL
Default Noise ordinances and our hobby.

Guys, as many of you know, I've been flying in a large vacant lot behind my neighborhood. The lot is clearly marked with "No Trespassing" signs, but it has been vacant now for over 12 years. I've been in this neighborhood for 11 years and flying there for the last 3.

In any case, I don't want to regurgitate old history, so I'll just give you an update. There is one neighbor who is adamant about the fact that she doesn't want me flying there, at any time. She called the code enforcement officers on me because of the "No Trespassing" signs and they paid me a visit.

I thought for sure that would be it, but to my surprise, when I walked to the field with the officers (2 of them), they determined that I was not breaking any trespass laws. The signs are indeed posted for the field, but they only apply to land vehicles or persons... the analogy the officer gave me was of a kid standing on the side of the road with a kite. If the kite flies over the field, no problem. If he enters the field to fly the kite, then that's where the trespass occurs.

I was relieved at this point, since essentially that made her complaint against me without merit. However, the officer told me that the thing he could cite me for was the noise being generated by the heli, as measured from her property line.

I flew again this weekend, and again, she called code enforcement. The same officer showed up and I actually took my heli up and did some circuits for him. He said that the noise is not loud, and that the wind is just amplifying it. I was within his "reasonable" test and he let me fly some more... no problem.

However, he says that this lady just won't let it go, and so he will need to come back out to measure the noise level. Here is where it gets interesting. According to our ordinances, the noise level threshold is 60dB. However, it must be measured for a period of no less than 10min and 10% of that time I must be in violation of the threshold.

" L10 sound level. The sound level exceeded for more than ten (10) per cent of a measurement period which for the purposes of sections 15-8 through 15-8.8 shall not be less than ten (10) minutes."

" (a) Sound limits established. No person shall operate or cause to be operated any source of sound as enumerated in section 15-8.5(b), and unless specifically exempted by section 15-8.6, in such a manner as to create an exterior or interior sound level of any origin which exceeds the limits set forth for the receiving land use category in question for more than ten (10) per cent of any measurement period which shall not be less than ten (10) minutes when measured at or within the boundaries of a property or within the confines of a building within the receiving land use and as a result of a source of sound being located on some other property."

(b) L10 sound level limits. Permissible sound levels for sounds transmitted to receiving land use areas shall not exceed the following limits for L10 sound levels as defined herein. For the purpose of these noise control provisions, such sound levels shall be determined using FAST meter responses:

Receiving L10 Sound

Land Use Level Limit Category Time (dB)A
Exterior 7:00 a.m. to
Residential 11:00 p.m. 60

I had read these ordinances prior to flying this weekend and I discussed them with the officer. He was a bit aggravated that I was quoting ordinances from the actual text and kinda barked at me that all he had to do was call an officer and tell him that my heli was too loud and have the officer arrest me. To me, this is nonsense... he was basically trying to intimidate me.

Here's a funny part... I pull out my Radio Shack decibel meter I use for Home Theater calibration and he says "yep, that's the one we use". I turn it on, and it starts reading 68 and 70 db, just with wind noise and us talking. Therefore, I don't see how he can reliably measure my heli, which would be many hundreds of feet away from her property line and at the same time, isolate all other noises. Just doesn't make sense.

I fear this is a battle I will eventually lose, as any determined government employee will find out how to limit my rights... but I figured I would at least avail myself of the same laws they are using against me. I've contacted my attorney for interpretation of the city ordinances and will wait to hear back from the city on this one. Stay tuned!
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