April 14, 2006

City Says Enforcement of Noise Laws at Stake

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The City of Ithaca’s Attorney’s office stated yesterday that the city’s noise ordinance is not unconstitutional, but that its enforcement must be better regulated.

“We do not believe that the ordinance needs to be changed, it just needs to be enforced properly,” said City Attorney Dan Hoffman ’72, law ’93.

He said that the real problem the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found was with the noise ordinance’s enforcement when a police officer told Rev. Kevin Deegan to lower his voice while preaching on the Commons on Oct. 9, 1999.

“The problem arose because of the location of the noise; this situation would not arise with a party in a residential neighborhood,” Hoffman said.

The noise ordinance, in its current state, has affected students, especially those living off campus.

David Bean ’07, InterFraternity Council president said, “[The noise ordinance] has essentially given police the right to enter a home … basically to break up parties.”

The next step is for the attorney’s office to present its opinion and advice to the Common Council and Ithaca Police Department.

“I don’t think [the ordinance] is very complicated, but it needs to be stated in a very clear way so that there is no confusion about its enforcement,” Hoffman said.

Council member David Gelinas ’07 (D-4th Ward) agreed, saying, “Since [the Council] can’t enforce the law, we need to look at the wording of the law to make sure it accomplishes its original intent.”

Ithaca Police Chief Lauren Signer was unavailable for comment.

Archived article by Vanessa Hoffman
City Editor