The nuisance of loud noises — vehicles, music, neighbors and more — is a complicated issue.
The Echo Press was asked to look into the rules and regulation regarding vehicle and other noise.
According to Douglas County Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush, Douglas County has ordinances related to noise, but not anything specific to vehicle noise, such as "Jake braking," which is the noise often heard when semi-trucks are slowing down.
A compression release engine brake, frequently referred to as a Jake brake, is an engine braking mechanism installed on some diesel engines. When activated, it opens exhaust valves to release compressed air trapped in the cylinders, which slows the vehicle and produces a loud noise.
Rush said the city of Garfield has a braking ordinance and he believes several other cities within the county — Brandon, Miltona and Evansville — also have braking ordinances.
For questions on Jake brakes and other questions, residents can call the city hall for their specific town.
According to Alexandria City Planner Mike Weber, the Alexandria City Code regulates noise, and also uses the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's rules.
"Noise is a complicated issue for us to deal with, especially as it relates to vehicles," Weber said. "If you're standing on the corner and a loud truck goes by, by the time you call the police department and have a squad car dispatched to that corner, the offender could be miles away, in any direction."
Weber said, however, that officers with the Alexandria Police Department do their best to locate violators and enforce the laws.
Police Chief Rick Wyffels said loud vehicles get people agitated, but they are the most difficult to measure whether they are in violation. Vehicle noise is measured by decibels and a certified instrument is required for measuring.
"The root of most noise issues, or complaints, is vehicles," he said.
In Alexandria's City Code, under section 9.85, which is labeled "Noise," it states, "It is unlawful for any person to make, continue, or cause to be made or continued any loud, unnecessary or unusual noise or any noise which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others."
There are sub-sections related to many other potential noise producing items such as outdoor music, exhausts, loudspeakers and many more. It states, "The following acts are declared to be loud, disturbing and unnecessary noises and are in violation of this section."
For instance, the public cannot use a pile driver or steam shovel between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. or it is a violation of the City Code and is punishable by law. There are a total of 19 sub-sections.
Wyffels said if someone is mowing the grass or using a jackhammer at 2 a.m., "That's easy. It is a violation. Loud vehicles are not easy."
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