Hey Now, What's That Sound?

Jan 9, 2014

The Decibel Meter
Credit Roger Adams

  Next week, the Aspen Brewing Company goes on trial for breaking the city’s noise ordinance.  The business was issued citations for having music and general bar sounds that were too loud at the property line of a neighboring penthouse condominium.  The residents there had called police complaining about the noise last August.  APR's Roger Adams reports.

  Aspen has clear rules regarding sound levels.  Enforcement of these rules is handled by Aspen’s Environmental Health Department.

“We are sort of the keepers of the city’s noise ordinance.”

That’s CJ Oliver, Environmental Health Director.  His staff, along with Aspen police officers, has hand held sound meters they use to measure the decibels of any given sound.  After nine at night in Aspen’s core the ordinance limits noise to 60 decibels.  60 or higher might be fine if you are at the bar but annoying and stressful if you are trying to sleep or put a baby down for sleep.  The citation seems straightforward; the bar either did or did not break the 60-decibel level.  The trial, however, is likely to become about the noise level ordinance itself

“Its been challenging because there just doesn’t seem to be common ground to settle on in the middle, 

"There are just drastically different interests there."

We invited Oliver and his noise meter to our studios to get a better sense of how sound is perceived by different interests.  We asked him to monitor some different sounds starting with an average crowded bar.

(Bar sound up – followed by sound testing demonstration at APR studios.)

CJ Oliver, City of Aspen, Environmental Health Director
Credit Roger Adams

  Well CJ thank you its been a pleasure.

“Thank you very much.”

CJ Oliver is director of the City of Aspen’s Environmental Health Department.  The Aspen Brewing Company’s jury trial on the noise citations begins next Wednesday (1-15-2014.)