Mancos is working to set decibel levels to regulate noise in the town.
Town Administrator Heather Alvarez said the previous code is “vague and subjective” and that their insurance provider CIRSA recommends that Mancos update the code to make it more measurable and objective.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but town staff have purchased a decibel meter, and the Marshal’s Office will be using it around town over the next few weeks to test out appropriate levels, Alvarez said. Information will be presented to the board at their Dec. 11 meeting.
The updated ordinance was partly inspired by litigation faced by the town of Pagosa Springs, which had a similarly vague ordinance.
“After their police department issued several citations to a local establishment for noise violations, the ordinance was challenged in court,” Alvarez wrote in a staff report. They were able to reach a settlement, she said, but because of this incident, CIRSA now recommends that the town establish more objective rules.
“It’s officer discretion right now,” she said at a board meeting Nov. 13.
Their recommendations were based on information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For reference, an average urban residence registers at 50 decibels, a freight train 100 feet away is about 80 decibels, and a nightclub with music is about 110 decibels, according to OSHA.
OSHA also establishes legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace: in general, OSHA’s permissible exposure limit is 90 decibels for an eight-hour work day.
The limits would need to take into account multiple considerations, staff said, from healthy listening levels to reasonable business regulations – ensuring that late-night venues like Fenceline Cider and the Columbine Bar can still function normally.
They also want to make sure residents can continue doing normal activities like mowing the lawn or working in the garage.
“We don’t want to make it so low that the town’s quiet all the time,” Mancos Marshal Justen Goodall said.