WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE, Texas -- West University Place's noise ordinance had come before the city's zoning and planning commission 16 times since 2018 with requests for changes from residents, but now with council action, those requests became a reality.
The West University Place City Council voted unanimously July 27 to approve the second and final reading on amendments to a noise ordinance that expand residential quiet hours within city limits; implement tighter restrictions on noise-generating equipment, including leaf blowers, outside of those quiet hours; and nine months for any residents or contractors to transition to quieter equipment.
During the council's July 27 meeting, residents called in to support and argue against the amendments, especially on a 70-decibel maximum restriction on any leaf blower, specifically, operated outside residential quiet hours. Other lawn equipment is subject to the original ordinance limit of 85 decibels.
The new quiet hours are before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Saturday, and before noon and after 5 p.m. Sundays, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, Independence Day, and any city holiday on which there is no curbside trash collection.
To enforce such an ordinance on leaf blowers, West University Place will look at the manufacturer's equipment rating, and should it not meet the 70-decibel standard, it would be a violation.
The ordinance stipulates that noise level limits on residential properties remain below 58 decibels during residential quiet hours, 65 decibels during other times and 68 decibels for nonresidential properties.
The first reading of the ordinance approved by the council July 13 allowed contractors and residents a six-month period to transition to quieter leaf blowers, though members of the governing body discussed whether that was enough time.
"Do you think it's fair to those folks, to those small practitioners, that the city gives them a six-month window?" Mayor Bob Higley asked City Manager Dave Beach, who responded that he was unable to make such a judgment.
The council eventually settled on a nine-month window and amended the proposed amendments accordingly, which means contractors and residents now have until April 2021 to purchase leaf blowers that meet the new noise standards.