Revised Model Noise Ordinance for Pennsylvania Released

Attorney Shannon Brown released a newly-revised Model Noise Ordinance for Pennsylvania municipalities. A noise ordinance acts as an essential tool for municipalities to encourage neighborliness, to recognize fundamental constitutional property rights, and to reduce the negative health effects of noise pollution in Pennsylvania communities. The newly-revised model noise ordinance incorporates additional review of legal precedent through October 2019. The model noise ordinance focuses on ease of enforcement, adherence to constitutional law, and novel new risk to municipalities who do not adopt a true, noise ordinance.

Failure to take noise pollution seriously may impair the constitutional rights of property owners to the quiet enjoyment of their property, may contribute to adverse health in the community, and may exacerbate poor neighbor relations. Unfortunately, some municipalities still think that a general “nuisance ordinance” is adequate to combat noise (it’s not—see my detailed, 2018 noise ordinance presentation).

Mounting health and scientific evidence show serious health consequences linked to noise. Noise is linked to at least heart disease, high blood pressure, stress, sleeplessness, psychological annoyance, psychiatric illness, hearing loss, and premature death. Increasingly, children suffer from autism (noise can exacerbate) and learning impairment related to noise. Also, recent research emphasizes that noise need not be “loud” to cause problems or negative health effects.

Noise ordinance law in Pennsylvania differs from some other states. Pennsylvania correctly recognizes the fundamental federal and state constitutional rights to the quiet enjoyment of property and the corresponding duty of every individual to use his property in a manner that does not interfere with the quiet enjoyment of others. Pennsylvania also follows the constitutionally-sound rule that noise infractions can be supported by plainly-audible standards (again, reflecting that any noise is a potential infringement on the fundamental constitutional right to quiet enjoyment). Thus, Pennsylvania does not require that municipalities set “decibel level” measurements (and other states will need to follow suit because “decibels” do not measure noise and “decibel limits” are typically arbitrary and set way too high).

Easy to implement, easy to enforce, and recognizing noise as a serious issue are the hallmarks of the free, newly-revised, noise ordinance. The model noise ordinance comes in PDF and fill-able MS Word formats.

Attorney Brown consults on noise pollution, noise ordinances, neighbor law, and nuisance law issues.

Revised Model Noise Ordinance for Pennsylvania—early 2020 version

PDF Version of Pennsylvania Noise Ordinance—Model Noise Ordinance v.202

MS Word Version of Pennsylvania Noise Ordinance—Model Noise Ordinance v.202 [WORD]