Hearing set on marine noise ordinance

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SANDPOINT — Bonner County commissioners are conducting a public hearing next month to consider a code change meant to bring some peace and quiet to local waterways.

The hearing on the ordinance amendment is set for Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Bonner County Administration Building in Sandpoint. The hearing starts at 9 a.m.

Under the proposed code change, it would be unlawful for a vessel’s in-dash or portable stereo system to be played at a volume which can be heard by somebody else from 200 feet away.

The same 200-foot rule also applies to yelling, shouting, whistling and singing, according to draft language of the code amendment.

Those convicted of violating the new rules, would be subject to an infraction, which is punishable by a fine of up to $300, according to Bonner County Revised Code.

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol already uses decimeters to enforce compliance with county codes addressing motorboat engine noise and muffler requirements. Bonner County Parks & Waterways Director Steve Klatt said commercially available rangefinders would also likely be used to enforce the new code if it’s adopted.

The code modifications had their genesis on Priest Lake, where landowners said boaters on the lake’s tranquility was being shattered by amplified music coming from boats.

Marine patrol Lt. Ed Jochum said the problem has become more pronounced over the past decade due to the proliferation of directional 12-inch speaker arrays.

“You didn’t see that before. They’re pretty prevalent,” he said during a waterways advisory board meeting on Thursday.

Although the ordinance was aimed at lowering the noise on Priest, it will apply to all waterways in Bonner County in enacted by commissioners.

Klatt said the proposed code change will be circulated to local marinas.

“We want as much input as we can get,” county Commission Chairman Glen Bailey said.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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