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City approves consulting firm to evaluate and analyze proposed sound ordinance

The City of Oxford is considering making changes to its sound ordinance, but they will first seek the help of a consulting firm.

During Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, they approved a proposal from Roland, Woolworth & Associates, LLC — consultants in audio and visual technology — to review, investigate and make recommendations for the proposed noise ordinance revisions.

According to the firm’s proposal to the City, they will “gather background sound and operating sound levels of various entertainment and eating establishments,” as well as review the proposed ordinance changes and then make recommendations based on coordination with city officials and related committee members, as well as city resources.

The scope of the project will be kept inside the city limits of Oxford.

“To enforce it, you’ve got to be able to measure it,” Oxford mayor Robyn Tannehill said during the meeting. “We want to make sure we look at other communities’ decibels and see what they are set at.”

During the meeting, Oxford’s chief operating officer Bart Robinson noted that the noise levels allowed in residential and business areas could be different as well as different times of the day in those areas.

The first step of the project is data collection and planning, which the firm will identify residential and commercial zones of interest in Oxford and have an initial review of the proposed ordinance. They will coordinate with the Oxford Police Department and the city throughout the project to ensure a clear definition of needs.

There will be long and short term measurements taken repeatedly in a set of locations over the course of several busy days in order to get a “typical operating range for worse case conditions,” per the proposal. Some of the measurements will be taken with city officials present.

The firm will evaluate all data collected at their Oxford office with the proposed ordinance to help inform their recommendations to the Board. They will then make a presentation to the Board, or a committee if the Board chooses to form one regarding the noise ordinance changes.

“We talked about this for at least two years in ordinance review committee meetings and City Hall meetings and have tried to tackle it by just copying other people’s ordinances, only realizing that we still don’t know how to compare actual sound,” Tannehill said. “We don’t want to put ordinances in place to set up people to to fail because we’ve got some decibel requirement in here that’s not realistic.”

The cost to have the firm conduct their investigation and analysis will cost a lump sum of $9,781.88. They are not requiring a retainer fee.