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Hartford Toughens Law To Quell Noise

Hartford Courant

March 26, 2009

Hartford has endured more than its share of gun crimes in the past couple of years, but ask residents what bothers them the most and the answer is often "noise."

Intrusive noise is one of the major bothers of living in parts of Hartford, and one of the main reasons so many people have left the city in the past few decades. It stands to reason that if people cannot sleep because of motorcycles, car horns, loud music or fighting, they are going to find a quieter place.

The city has put up with or ignored this problem for years. Now finally something is being done about it.

Two years ago, residents of the city's Northeast neighborhood began complaining about noise and related nuisances coming from the increasingly popular nightclubs along the northern stretch of Main Street. The crowds at the clubs were littering, parking all over the place and playing music outdoors after hours, to the major annoyance of the stable, middle-class African American neighborhood nearby.

One problem was the city's noise ordinance, which for a number of reasons was nearly impossible to enforce. Thanks to pressure from neighbors, the city council passed a more straightforward ordinance, which targets noise that is clearly audible from a distance of 100 feet, day or night.

With the new ordinance in hand, activists from all the city's neighborhoods have put together an education campaign to explain it to city residents and show them how to use it. They will kick off the education campaign with a press conference Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at city hall. Neighborhood leaders will pass out brochures on the ordinance in all neighborhoods.

Hartford police spokeswoman Nancy Mulroy said the department has been training officers on the ordinance. "It's a priority," she said. The department will track the source of repeated complaints. Penalties include community service, a fine of up to $90 and, in certain circumstances, a jail sentence of up to 25 days.

These steps should have been taken decades ago. Thankfully they are being taken now. It is important that residents use the new law and that police follow through. If Hartford won't accept loud noise, litter and other quality-of-life violations, it will be a much more pleasant place to live.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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