A new Brookhaven noise ordinance based on decibel levels rather than police officers’ opinions is in the works. But the City Council deferred a vote at its Oct. 13 meeting so that local businesses can sound off on the idea first. The ordinance likely will return to the council agenda on Nov. 10.

The Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce emailed members on Oct. 22 advising them about the proposed ordinance and seeking feedback. The Chamber directed businesses to the full text of the ordinance on the city’s website and asked for feedback to be emailed to melissabryson@att.net.

“With the amount of mixed-use development in Brookhaven and our generally smaller residential lot sizes, this places commercial establishments in close proximity to residential neighbors,” the Chamber’s email reads in part. “We certainly need to be mindful of that situation while also ensuring businesses can operate effectively.”

Council members Linley Jones and Bates Mattison noted that restaurants with live music in such areas as Brookhaven Village are getting hit with noise tickets.

Current code involves whether a sound is audible is at a certain distance and leaves a lot to police interpretation, City Attorney Chris Balch said. The new ordinance is based on decibels, a scientific measure of sound. A decibel meter can measure that sound level and be used as court evidence.

However, cost may be an issue. Police Chief Gary Yandura said the police have some decibel meters that cost $200 each and need to be re-certified each year for $100. The department likely would need more meters and more officer training, which Yandura said he is struggling to find at an affordable rate.

***This story has been updated to correct a typo in a name.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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