August 25, 2004

Committee Reviews Ordinance

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Ithaca, a city as notorious for its noisy parties as its noisy politics, may soon get a little quieter.

The Common Council’s governance committee approved a proposed amendment to the noise ordinance Monday, which will allow police officers to write noise violation citations without another party filing a complaint. The amendment passed by a vote of 4-1 and will now be sent to the Common Council for final approval.

Alderman Michael Taylor ’05 (D-4th Ward) cast the only vote against the amendment. He explained that section four of the existing ordinance already allows police officers to be complainants, meaning that they can write a citation even if nobody else calls in a complaint. “There’s not that much substance to it. It’s more of like statement that I thought was unnecessary and the wrong kind of statement to make,” Taylor said.

He also said he felt the amendment runs contrary to the sentiment of the ordinance itself. “[The ordinance] is really about protecting neighbors from a nuisance party, and neighbors are the only people who can really judge whether a party is a nuisance or not. It should be on them to determine whether a noise ordinance violation should be written or not,” he said.

To Police Chief Lauren Signer, the change would make it easier for police to do their jobs. She said that it would help streamline the process of writing citations, and that reducing the burden of proof required of complainants will serve their interests.

“We’re hoping for the amendment because it would make it easier for us to exercise the true spirit of the ordinance, which is: just don’t have your music too loud or you’ll annoy other people,” she said.

Mayor Carolyn Peterson and Alderman Pamela Mackesey (D-1st Ward) were not available for comment.

According to an article in yesterday’s Ithaca Journal, Alderman David Whitmore (D-2nd Ward), who serves on the governance committee, said “it would paralyze the system if we were to take something like this out.”

The Journal also reported that Alderman Mary Tomlan (D-3rd Ward) met a student who lives on Stewart Avenue who had to buy earplugs because of the noise but did not feel comfortable calling the police. Tomlan is not on the governance committee, but she attended the meeting to address the board, the Journal wrote.

The amendment will now go to the Common Council, which will vote for it at its next meeting on Sept. 1. Taylor said he encourages fellow students to attend the meeting and voice their concerns and stories regarding the noise ordinance, and said that along with fellow Alderman Gayraud Townsend ’05 (D-4th Ward) he hopes to defeat the amendment’s final ratification.

Archived article by Yuval Shavit
Sun Staff Writer