How loud is too loud? City updates noise ordinance to add clarity, effectiveness

COVINGTON, Ky. – The City of Covington has tweaked its noise ordinance to make it easier to understand and enforce.

The changes include separate regulations for daytime and nighttime monitoring and more objective evaluation of whether noise is unreasonably loud and thus violates the ordinance.

The specific changes were first brought to the Covington Board of Commissioners for discussion 1½ months ago, were approved July 19, and are now in effect. They came in response to a series of ongoing disputes that rose to the City’s attention.

The ordinance with the recent changes can be read at NOISE ORDINANCE.

“We wanted to make it clearer for everyone involved,” said Assistant City Solicitor Logan Todd, who worked on the ordinance. “Before, a lot hinged on the ‘unreasonably loud’ description, but now the definition is more objective. And rather than just saying that the time of day was a ‘factor’ in the consideration, we wrote specific regulations for ‘day’ and ‘night.’ ”


  • “Excessive” daytime noise (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday) is defined as any sound that is plainly audible at a distance of 100 feet.
  • “Excessive” nighttime noise (10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday night through Friday morning, and 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. Friday night through Sunday morning) is defined as any sound that is plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet.
  • “Plainly audible” means any sound able to be detected by a person of reasonable hearing ability, or a sound that produces an average reading over a five-minute period in excess of 55 dBA (decibels weighted to approximate the way the human ear hears).
  • Exemptions include construction and renovation activity between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., emergency vehicles, organized school or recreation-related activities, and industrial equipment in areas zoned for that use.
  • Violations carry a $50 fine for a first offense, a $100 fine for the second, and $150 for each offense thereafter.

‘Common courtesy’

Police Chief Rob Nader said police want compliance, not punishment, and thus they will be focused in the beginning on education. But that could change.

“Our goal is to work with both our residents and businesses in addressing noise issues that disturb neighborhoods we serve,” Chief Nader said. “So for the next few weeks, we will be issuing warnings and/or advising about the new ordinance. If those warnings are ignored and the violations are repeated, this will force our hand and lead to citations.”

But Nader said police shouldn’t have to step in.

“We just want people to use common courtesy,” Nader said. “Treat people the way you want to be treated. If you’re unwilling to do that, we will step in if we have to.”

At the same time, he said, police shouldn’t be seen as a tool for neighbors to use to harass each other.

The Police Department recently purchased a sound meter to enable officers to measure the loudness of noise, if needed. But Nader said officers will likely be able to use their own ears in responding to noise complaints. 

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