Township proposes sound, nuisance ordinances to limit community disturbances

Published by adviser, Author: Amber Cannon - Campus Life Editor, Date: November 18, 2015

The Slippery Rock Township supervisors held a meeting Tuesday evening to discuss and hear public comments about two proposed ordinances that will manage and control outdoor amplified sound systems and nuisances that create disturbances among the Slippery Rock community.

Supervisor Paul Dickey said the ordinances came about because of the amount of parties that have gotten out of hand at the student housing complexes.

Township Solicitor Wil White explained what the sound ordinances mean, and how students will be affected by them.

If the ordinances are approved, the host of the gathering or the property owner hosting the gathering is said to become a “nuisance” and will be issued a fine of no less than $500, but no more than $1,000. The host will also be obligated to reimburse the cost of the responding services that arrived at the event. If the host is the one who called about the gathering getting out of hand that host will not be subjected to a citation.

In order for one’s gathering to be defined as a nuisance, it must be comprised of at least 10 people and two or more prohibited acts must take place at that gathering, such as loud noise, disturbance of the peace, littering, criminal mischief, open lewdness, possession of a controlled substance, fights, public drunkenness, public urination and illegal sale and consumption of alcohol.

The ordinances would be put in place starting at 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. This ordinance will not apply to political and religious gatherings.

SGA Vice President of Financial Affairs, Michael Farrah said in order for the sound ordinance to become clearer, there needs to be a specific decibel level of how loud the music can actually be until a gathering is labeled a nuisance.

White said the ordinance isn’t set to a specific decibel level because there’s always going to be noise and nobody can control that.

Farrah opposed this statement and said that if a student was outside and listening to the radio, and if someone decided that they didn’t like the music that this student was playing and they reported this student for their music, he questioned if there was a chance that this student could be cited for being a nuisance.

White said the music being too loud isn’t what triggers this ordinance, but whether or not there is an outdoor event going on and whether the event is using temporary outdoor amplified sound systems.

“Think of this from a business perspective,” White said. “If I’m a business and I want to have a sale outside with flashing strobe lights and maybe some amplified sound to draw some attention to my sale, you need to apply for a permit and you can do that Sunday through Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. and on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.”

This permit can only be used by businesses once per month.

SGA Commuter Senator, Lainna Garrow, combated this statement and said the sound ordinances are completely focusing on the apartment complexes surrounding the Slippery Rock area.

“They are spinning it to make it about making the community a safe and healthy place, but if you think about it, we are the only township that doesn’t have police,” Garrow said. “It takes about 20 to 30 minutes for the [state] police to arrive.”

Garrow questioned how the township differentiates between what’s a sound ordinance and a health issue. She said in most cases, the health issue begins before the sound ordinance does.

“How does [the township] decide what’s a health issue versus a party, when you have to walk to The Grove without lights to get to a party,” Garrow said. “What is it going to take for them to get lights?”

Executive Director for University Public Relations Rita Abent said the university’s job isn’t to comment on Slippery Rock Township matters, but to make sure the students of Slippery Rock University are well informed on what the township supervisors discuss at these meetings. Abent said she was delighted to see students at the township meeting who have read and asked questions about the ordinances.

In terms of the sound ordinance, Abent said the Slippery Rock community is looking at the broader context in terms of businesses that disturb the peace later at night. She said it’s the township’s responsibility to make sure Slippery Rock residents are safe.

The Slippery Rock Township will hold another meeting on Monday, Nov. 23 to discuss the ordinances further and to possibly pass the bill.


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