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updated: 9/19/2012 5:38 PM

Lombard woman wants stricter noise ordinance

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Lombard resident Marilyn Jensby has done her research when it comes to noise.

She discovered the village's noise ordinance last was updated in 1996 to mirror state law, but provisions about prohibited noise levels apply only to commercial properties, not residential areas.

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Jensby is pushing for an update to the Lombard ordinance that would create measurable noise standards for residential areas, which she says would give police more authority to enforce restrictions.

But police Chief Ray Bryne said the current ordinance allows officers to use their discretion to determine if noise from a lawn mower or stereo is unreasonable.

"We've never had a problem enforcing noise disturbances in the village," Bryne said. "We always try to problem solve. Most of the time, people comply."

Still, without a definition of sound levels that would result in a violation, Jensby says Lombard's ordinance is too vague.

As part of her research, she found nearby municipalities, especially Elmhurst, have stricter regulations on the volume and duration of prohibited noise.

"That led me to thinking that Lombard has a weak law," Jensby said.

Lombard's ordinance says "any noise that unreasonably interferes with the enjoyment of life" or violates state standards set by the Illinois Pollution Control Board is prohibited. State standards leave residential noise issues up to local discretion, Bill Heniff, community development director, said.

Jensby said she also wants the village to equip police officers with decibel meters so they can measure noise when complaints arise. She said she bought an analog decibel meter for about $30 in spring 2011.

"Her contention is that absent a defined decibel reading, the village does not have the tools in place to regulate noise emanating from adjacent properties," Heniff said.

Jensby began researching noise regulations and working to change Lombard's ordinance in 2010. She said she had been experiencing problems with loud music played frequently by a resident in her neighborhood beginning in 2009. Jensby said the volume of the music often would force her daughter to keep her bedroom window closed, even in the summer.

"The music is so loud, and for hours," she said.

A letter she wrote Byrne in April 2011 resulted in a lieutenant being assigned to the case.

Byrne said police deal with noise complaints on a daily basis. When the creator of the noise does not comply with requests to turn it down, "we cite them for disorderly conduct," he said. But he said the noise situation in Jensby's neighborhood was "not unreasonable."

Jensby has met with five of the six Lombard trustees and spoken before the village board's environmental concerns committee about her request for updates to the ordinance.

"I'm personally glad to look at tightening up our noise ordinance," Trustee Peter Breen said. "Our ordinance is not specific on those decibel levels so we may have issues with (enforcement)."

The environmental concerns committee is set to discuss the noise ordinance on Oct. 23 and the village board's transportation and safety committee will take up the issue Oct. 1.

"It's at least something to look into," said Trustee Zachary Wilson, who leads the transportation and safety committee. "If we have an antiquated ordinance, maybe we should look at it and revise it."

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