Chapter 8.76


8.76.010    Scope and Authority.

8.76.020    Definitions.

8.76.030    Noise Control Officer – Creation.

8.76.040    Noise Control Officer – Powers and Duties.

8.76.050    Identification of Environments.

8.76.060    Maximum Permissible Environmental Noise Levels.

8.76.070    Exemptions.

8.76.080    Noise Control Hearings Board.

8.76.090    Variances and Implementation Schedules.

8.76.100    Enforcement Policy.

8.76.110    Appeals.

8.76.120    Violation – Penalty.

8.76.130    Other Rights, Remedies, Powers, Duties and Functions.

8.76.010 Scope and Authority.

This Chapter shall apply to the control of all sound originating within the unincorporated areas of Pierce County and is adopted pursuant to RCW Chapter 70.107, the Noise Control Act of 1974, in order to establish maximum noise levels permissible in identified environments, and to provide use standards relating to the reception of noise within such environments. (Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.010)

8.76.020 Definitions.

As used in this Chapter, unless the context or subject matter clearly requires otherwise, the following words or phrases shall have the following meanings:

A.    "Background sound level" means the level of all sounds in a given environment, independent of the specific source being measured.

B.    "dBA" means the sound pressure level, in decibels measured using the "A" weighting network on a sound level meter. The sound pressure level, in decibels, of a sound is 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the pressure of sound to a reference pressure of 20 micropascals.

C.    "EDNA" means the environmental designation for noise abatement, being an area of zone (environment) within which maximum permissible noise levels are established.

D.    "Health Department" means the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

E.    "Health Officer" means the Director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, or his authorized representative.

F.    "Multi-family units" includes, but is not limited to, duplexes, triplexes, apartment houses and condominiums. The property lines of such units shall include the wall, ceilings and floors of each unit.

G.    "Noise" means the intensity, duration and character of sounds, from any and all sources.

H.    "Noise Control Hearing Board" means a Board which is designated by the Health Department to hear and decide noise variance cases.

I.    "Noise Control Office" means that division of the Health Department which has the duties and powers established by this Chapter.

J.    "Owner" includes the owner or owners of the premises or lesser estate therein, a mortgage or vendee in possession, an assignee for rents, receiver, executor, trustee or other person, firm or corporation in control of a building or property.

K.    "Person" means any individual, corporation, partnership or association and the agents, employees, servants and legal successors thereof; or agency of state, county or municipal government; or agency of the federal government which is subject to the jurisdiction of the State of Washington.

L.    "Property boundary" means the surveyed line at ground surface, which separates the real property owned, rented, or leased by one or more persons, from that owned, rented, or leased by one or more other persons, and its vertical extension.

M.    "Racing event" means any motor vehicle competition conducted under a permit issued by a governmental authority having jurisdiction or, if such permit is not required, then under the auspices of a recognized sanctioning body.

N.    "Receiving property" means real property within which the maximum permissible noise levels specified herein shall not be exceeded from sources outside such property.

O.    "Shoreline" means the existing intersection of water with the ground surface or with any permanent shore connected facility.

P.    "Sound level meter" means a device which measures sound pressure levels and conforms to Type 1, S1A, 2 or S2A as specified in the American national Standards Institute Specifications.

(Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.020)

8.76.030 Noise Control Officer – Creation.

There is created a position of Noise Control Officer within the Health Department. (Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.030)

8.76.040 Noise Control Officer – Powers and Duties.

In order to implement this Chapter, the Noise Control Officer or his designee shall:

A.    Conduct, or cause to be conducted, research, monitoring and other studies related to sound;

B.    Conduct programs or public education related to causes, effects and methods to abate and control noise;

C.    Encourage the participation of public interest groups in such public information efforts;

D.    Coordinate with the noise control activities of all County departments;

E.    Cooperate with all appropriate state and federal agencies;

F.    Draft needed noise control regulations;

G.    Enter into contracts with the approval of the Health Officer and the County Executive for providing technical and enforcement services;

H.    Review public and private projects and advise whether such projects are likely to cause violations of this Chapter;

I.    Require the owner or operator of any commercial or industrial activity to establish and maintain records regarding noise emissions and make such reports as the Noise Control Officer may reasonably prescribe;

J.    Require the owner or operator of any commercial or industrial activity to measure the sound level from any source in accordance with the methods and procedures and at such locations and times as the Noise Control Officer may reasonably prescribe and to furnish reports of the results of such measurements to the Noise Control Officer. The Noise Control Officer may require the measurements to be conducted in the presence of his enforcement officials;

K.    Delegate functions, where appropriate under this Chapter, to personnel within the Health Department and to other agencies or departments, subject to approval of the Health Officer;

L.    Administer noise program grants and other funds and gifts from public and private sources;

M.    Evaluate and report to the Health Officer every year following the effective date of this Chapter on the effectiveness of the County Noise Control Program and make recommendations for any legislative or budgetary changes necessary to improve the program.

(Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.040)

8.76.050 Identification of Environments.

A.    The EDNA of any property shall be based on the following typical uses:

1.    Class A EDNA. Lands where human beings reside and sleep. Typically, Class EDNA will be the following types of property used for human habitation:

a.    Residential;

b.    Multiple-family living accommodations;

c.    Recreational and entertainment (e.g., camps, parks, camping facilities and resorts);

d.    Community service (e.g., orphanages, homes for the aged, hospitals, health and correctional facilities);

2.    Class B EDNA. Lands involving uses requiring protection against noise interference with speech. Typically, Class B EDNA will be the following types of property:

a.    Commercial living accommodations;

b.    Commercial dining establishments;

c.    Motor vehicle services;

d.    Retail services;

e.    Banks and office buildings;

f.    Miscellaneous commercial services;

g.    Recreation and entertainment; property not used for human habitation (e.g., theaters, stadiums, fairgrounds and amusement parks);

h.    Community services; property not used for human habitation (e.g., educational, religious, governmental, cultural and recreational facilities).

3.    Class C EDNA. Lands involving economic activities of such a nature that higher noise levels than experienced in other areas are to be anticipated. Persons working in these areas are normally covered by noise control regulations or the Department of Labor and Industries. Uses typical of Class A EDNA are generally not permitted within such areas. Typically, Class C EDNA will be the following types of property:

a.    Storage, warehouse and distribution facilities;

b.    Industrial property used for the production and fabrication of durable and nondurable manmade goods;

c.    Agricultural and silvicultural property used for the production of crops, wood products or livestock.

B.    Subject to subsection D. of this Section, EDNA land classification shall conform with the County zoning codes as follows:

1.    Zones primarily utilized for residential purposes in the County include: RE, SR, ST, RR, RML, RM, RMH, RMP and SA – Class A EDNA. Any future zoning change will also control the EDNA classification, i.e., if zoned R-2 is changed to M-1, the M-1 EDNA would apply.

2.    Zones primarily utilized for commercial purposes in the County include: C-1, C 2, C-3, PS-1, PS-2, PSC, FS, HAS and PE – Class B EDNA.

3.    Zones primarily utilized or potentially utilized for industrial purposes in the County include: M-1, M 2, MP, A – Class C EDNA. EDNA designations shall be amended as necessary to conform to zone changes under the zoning ordinance.

4.    The general use zone in the County shall be governed on the basis of current use; therefore, if a residential area abuts an industrial or commercial use, it will be considered a Class A EDNA.

C.    Subject to subsection D. of this Section, in areas not covered by a local zoning ordinance but within the coverage of an adopted Pierce County comprehensive plan, EDNA's shall conform with the comprehensive plan as follows:

1.    Primarily residential areas – Class A EDNA;

2.    Primarily commercial areas – Class B EDNA;

3.    Primarily industrial areas – Class C EDNA. EDNA designations shall be amended as necessary to conform to changes in the comprehensive plan.

D.    Where in the County there is neither a zoning ordinance in effect nor an adopted comprehensive plan, the Health Department shall designate EDNA's which conform to the criteria in subsections A.1., 2. and 3. of this Section.

E.    Where no specific prior designation of EDNA's has been made, the appropriate EDNA for properties involved in any enforcement activity will be made by the Noise Control Officer on the basis of the criteria of subsections A.1., 2. and 3. of this Section.

F.    The Health Department may make special designations of lands where serenity, tranquility or quiet are essential to the quality of the environment and serves an important public need. If so approved, such designation will not be effective until approved by the County Executive and the Washington State Department of Ecology and until maps of such designations are available for public inspection in the Health Department.

(Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.050)

8.76.060 Maximum Permissible Environmental Noise Levels.

A.    No person shall cause or permit noise to intrude into the property of another person which noise exceeds the maximum permissible noise levels set forth in subsection B. of this Section.

B.    1.    The noise limitations established are as set forth in the following table after any applicable adjustments provided for in this Chapter are applied.

EDNA of Noise Source

EDNA of Receiving Property

Class A

Class B

Class C

Class A

55 dBA

57 dBA

60 dBA

Class B

57 dBA

60 dBA

65 dBA

Class C

60 dBA

65 dBA

70 dBA

2.    Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the noise limitations of the foregoing table shall be reduced by 10 dBA for receiving property within Class A EDNA's.

3.    At any hour of the day or night the applicable noise limitations in subsections B.1. and 2. of this Section may be exceeded for any receiving property by no more than:

a.    5 dBA for a total of 15 minutes in any 1-hour period; or

b.    10 dBA for a total of 5 minutes in any 1-hour period; or

c.    15 dBA for a total of 1.5 minutes in any 1-hour period.

(Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.060)

8.76.070 Exemptions.

A.    The following shall be exempt from Section 8.76.060 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.:

1.    Sounds originating from residential property relating to temporary projects for the construction, maintenance or repair of homes, grounds and appurtenances;

2.    Sounds created by the discharge of firearms on authorized shooting or firing ranges;

3.    Sounds created by blasting;

4.    Sounds created by aircraft engine testing and maintenance not related to flight operations, provided that aircraft testing and maintenance shall be conducted at remote sites whenever possible;

5.    Sounds created by the installation or repair of essential utility services.

B.    The following shall be exempt from subsection B.2. of Section 8.76.060:

1.    Noise from electrical substations and existing stationary equipment used in the conveyance of water or wastewater by a utility;

2.    Noise from existing industrial installations which exceed the standards contained in these regulations and which, over the previous three years, have consistently operated in excess of 15 hours per day as a consequence of process necessity and/or demonstrated routine normal operation. Changes in working hours which would effect exemptions under this regulation require approval of the Noise Control Officer.

C.    The following shall be exempt from Section 8.76.060, except insofar as such provisions relate to the reception of noise within Class A EDNA's between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.:

1.    Sounds originating from temporary construction sites as a result of construction activity;

2.    Sounds originating from forest harvesting and silvicultural activity.

D.    The following shall be exempt from Section 8.76.060:

1.    Sounds created by motor vehicles when regulated by WAC Chapter 173-62;

2.    Sounds originating from aircraft in flight and sounds that originate at airports which are directly related to flight operations;

3.    Sounds created by surface carriers engaged in interstate commerce by railroad;

4.    Sounds created by warning devices not operated continuously for more than five minutes or bells, chimes and carillons;

5.    Sounds created by safety and protective devices where noise suppression could defeat the intent of the device, or is not economically feasible;

6.    Sounds created by emergency equipment and work necessary in the interests of law enforcement or for health, safety or welfare of the community;

7.    Sounds originating from motor vehicle or motorcycle racing events at existing authorized facilities, or being sanctioned by a responsible authority;

8.    Sounds originating from officially sanctioned parades and other public events;

9.    Sounds emitted from petroleum refinery boilers during startup of said boilers; provided, that the startup operation is performed during daytime hours whenever possible;

10.    Sounds created by the discharge of firearms in the course of hunting;

11.    Sounds caused by natural phenomena and unamplified human voices;

12.    Animal noises which are already regulated;

13.    Sounds created by motor vehicles, licensed or unlicensed, when operated off public highways except when such sounds are received in Class A EDNA's;

14.    Sounds created by watercraft are excluded from this Chapter when regulated by Chapter 8.88 of this Code.

(Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.070)

8.76.080 Noise Control Hearings Board.

The Board of Health shall designate an Appeal Board which shall hear and decide requests for noise variance cases. The Appeal Board may also hear appeals from rulings of the Noise Control Officer. Subject to approval of the Health Officer, the Board shall adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to administer its responsibility. (Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.100)

8.76.090 Variances and Implementation Schedules.

A.    Variances may be granted to any person from any other particular requirement of this Chapter if findings are made by the Appeal Board that immediate compliance with such requirements cannot be achieved because of special circumstances rendering immediate compliance unreasonable in light of economic or physical factors, encroachment upon an existing noise source, or because of nonavailability of feasible technology or control methods. Any such variance or renewal thereof shall be granted only for the minimum time period found to be necessary under the facts and circumstances.

B.    An implementation schedule for achieving compliance with this Chapter shall be incorporated into any variance issued.

C.    Variances shall be issued only upon application in writing and after providing such information as may be requested. No variance shall be issued for a period of more than 30 days except upon due notice to the public with opportunity to comment.

D.    Sources of noise, subject to this Chapter, upon which construction begins after the effective date of the ordinance codified in this Chapter, shall immediately comply with the requirements of this Chapter, except in extraordinary circumstances where overriding considerations of public interest dictate the issuance of a variance.

(Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.110)

8.76.100 Enforcement Policy.

Noise measurement for the purposes of enforcing the provisions of Section 8.76.060 shall be measured in dBA with a sound level meter with the point of measurement being at any point within the receiving property. Such enforcement shall be undertaken only upon receipt of a complaint made by a person who resides, owns property, or is employed in the area affected by the noise complained of, except for parks, recreational areas and wildlife sanctuaries. (Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.120)

8.76.110 Appeals.

Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Noise Control Officer in relation to the enforcement of the maximum permissible noise levels provided for in this Chapter or the granting or denial of a variance may appeal to the Appeals Board. (Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.130)

8.76.120 Violation – Penalty.

For enforcement purposes, each day is defined as the 24-hour period beginning at 12:01 a.m., in which violation of this Chapter occurs, and shall constitute a separate violation. Any violation of this Chapter shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00 for each violation. (Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.140)

8.76.130 Other Rights, Remedies, Powers, Duties and Functions.

A.    Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to deny, abridge or alter alternative right of action or remedies in equity or under common law or statutory law, criminal or civil.

B.    Nothing in this Chapter shall deny, abridge or alter any powers, duties and functions relating to noise abatement and control now or hereafter vested in any State agency, nor shall this Chapter be construed as granting jurisdiction over the industrial safety and health of employees in work places, as now or hereafter vested in the Department of Labor and industries.

(Ord. 81-52 § 1 (part), 1981; prior Code § 66.10.150)