Noise, MIP ordinances approved

Ishpeming City Council

David Thibeault, whose wife is an Ishpeming business owner, expresses concern about a proposed noise ordinance during public comment at the Ishpeming City Council meeting Wednesday. The council passed the ordinance unanimously, along with an ordinance prohibiting minors from possessing or consuming alcohol. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council on Wednesday approved two new ordinances related to loud noise and minors in possession of alcohol.

An ordinance prohibiting loud noise that disturbs public safety, peace and comfort passed unanimously, but drew some debate.

David Thibeault, whose wife owns Shelly’s Rainbow Bar, was concerned that the ordinance would cause problems for downtown businesses.

“I have talked to other people that own bars in town, most of them are against it,” Thibeault said. “If you’ve got a noise ordinance, these bars that are trying to stay open and make a business are going to lose the business. They are going to lose customers because the customers are going to go to Negaunee or they are going to go to Marquette, wherever the music is.”

Hoff said the new ordinance could be seen as more lenient than city ordinances that dealt with noise violations in the past.

“Our old loud noise ordinance was found within another somewhat unrelated city ordinance making this type of behavior criminal and subject to a misdemeanor,” Hoff said. “This ordinance will make such a person creating loud noise responsible for a civil infraction. This was felt to be sufficient to address the isolated problems we have here in our city. And I believe we had, at our last city meeting, addressed the realities of the situation, that the officers will give plenty of advanced warnings to an individual. They would not issue a citation for the first loud noise offense.”

Councilman Karl Lehmann said he felt the ordinance was never intended to stifle any businesses downtown.

“We never intended this to obstruct the tavern industry, although it might happen on occasion if things get out of hand.” Lehmann said. “But every item, when we talked about this, was far and away from what was going on in the central business district. I guess its subject to interpretation at the time.”

Ishpeming Police Department Chief Steve Snowaert agreed that the ordinance was never designed to affect bars.

“I think a lot of times our enforcement is based on complaints and that’s what we respond to,” Snowaert said. “This came more for residential areas where a resident was making noise and a neighbor put it in a complaint. They complained to us and we didn’t have any tools to enforce it, we didn’t have a civil infraction. We had to pursue a misdemeanor, which obviously creates some difficulties.”

He said IPD officers will be able to use discretion in determining whether something is unreasonably loud.

“We are definitely not looking to hurt businesses and to squash anything else that goes on,” Snowaert said. “Like I said, … I don’t expect our officers to drive around the city and say ‘That one sounds a little loud, I am going to write a ticket.’ I expect it to be more on a complaint basis. It’s a way to answer a complaint.”

The council voted to adopt the ordinance as written with the exception of any reference to time of day.

The draft document prohibited certain noises and activities between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Violation of the proposed ordinance is considered a civil infraction resulting in a fine of $50 for a first infraction, a second violation within a 12-month period would result in a fine of $100, and a third violation within a 12-month period would result in a civil fine of $500.

Exceptions to the ordinance will include police or fire department vehicles and ambulances responding to or engaged in an emergency, or any department of public works trucks while engaged in snow removal or other necessary city functions.

An ordinance prohibiting the purchase of alcoholic beverages by minors also passed unanimously.

The ordinance was amended to line up with state laws regarding minors in possession of alcohol, City Attorney Bonnie Hoff said.

“As we spoke about last time, the first offense under the state statute is now a civil infraction,” Hoff said, “which should make a lot of parents happy because criminal records will not be created. This allows our police officers to write these citations either under state statute or local ordinance.”

According to the ordinance, the first violation would result in a fine of not more than $100 and may result in an order to participate in substance abuse prevention services or substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation; the second offense would result in a fine of not more than $200, and could result in imprisonment for not more than 30 days if the court finds the individual has violated an order of probation, failed to successfully complete court-ordered treatment, screening or community service, or failed to pay any fine for that conviction or juvenile adjudication. Two or more prior convictions or juvenile adjudications for violation of the ordinance may result in not more than 60 days imprisonment, and a fine of not more than $500.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is