L. Clay, Esq.
WA.) – Snohomish neighbors who are within earshot of
businesses with noisy 24/7 loading docks are in a lengthy struggle
with the City to get it to adopt and enforce a nighttime noise
ordinance for businesses.
municipal code primarily addresses citizen infractions of noise
standards but not those of businesses. So, if your dog barks
incessantly (day or night) you can be fined but if the business next
door keeps you up night after night with the sounds of vehicle backup
beepers, heavy metal doors, forklifts, and jarring pallets of goods,
you are on your own in seeking any relief.
identify the frequent barrage of disturbances emanating from the Fred
Meyer store at Snohomish Station as the cause of their sleepless
the beginning, a gravel pit
Station was developed in the mid-2000s on the site of a former gravel
pit and includes Home Depot and Kohls as its other anchors. The land
was sold to the developer by family members of long-time seated City
Council member Lynn Schilaty.
amphitheater-style configuration of the site allows the noise from
Fred Meyer’s loading docks to travel more easily up the hill
and into the neighborhood’s late 1960s – early 1970s
construction plans included protective noise and view mitigation
features for the adjacent residential area but the developer
failed to add those features.
repeated requests for a comprehensive noise ordinance which covers
businesses have been met by a stonewalling City Council. One
resident, Shawn Gay, has tried to work with the City for over two
years, speaking at numerous council meetings, providing noise and
video recordings of the late night and early morning disturbances.
the Fred Meyer store voluntarily restricted deliveries between 11pm
and 5am but noises from forklifts and backup beepers continued
throughout the night. One month the City reports it is working to
help residents who are then later told they will have to deal with it
themselves – and back and forth it goes.
City has suggested its options in providing an effective ordinance
are limited and complicated by the fact the while Snohomish Station
is within city limits, the adjacent neighborhood is not.
annex to the city idea
the Council has backpedaled on passing a noise ordinance this has not
stopped at least one council member from trying to sell homeowners on
the merits of having their neighborhood annexed into the city –
a suggestion which would be laughable were it not so astoundingly
offensive. The City wants more tax dollars but can’t offer any
help in solving a problem the city helped create.
disturbances from loading docks are not just limited to Fred Meyers.
Residents near Safeway and Haggen grocery stores are also affected.
Davis, who lives directly behind the Haggen store, has also found
that voluntary compliance to a requested quiet hours schedule between
10pm and 7am has not worked. Vendors will comply with the schedule
for a few days only to return to their 4am deliveries the next day.
other cities handle the commercial noise issue
seeking a comprehensive noise ordinance Davis and others researched
the municipal codes in the surrounding cities of Monroe, Everett,
Marysville, Bothell, Mill Creek and others. They talked with
compliance officers and the State Department of Ecology and found
that all those entities do regulate commercial noise.
such as Lynnwood and Granite Falls specifically address loading dock
noise in their codes. So why does the Snohomish City Council
continue to tell the affected residents “we feel your pain”
but then not act?
has the Council punted the issue down the field yet again in
insisting on an expensive noise study to be paid for by the City and
the Northwest Grocery Association?
does Snohomish City government have so much trouble navigating an
issue which other municipalities have long ago addressed?
reason may be that Snohomish officials don’t understand current
state laws governing noise or even their own ordinances. Some
council members insist that one local ordinance specifically exempts
businesses from noise laws. The City however, has been unable to
produce a copy of the ordinance.
Department of Ecology, which requires local codes that differ from
the state’s rules to be filed with the state, also has no
record of the exemption. Without the filed exemption, state law then
reason for the Council’s hesitancy may be the less-than-expert
legal advice received behind closed doors admonishing them not to
pass an ordinance.
to make all our voices heard in the halls of power
their hidden agenda or excuses, no one’s quality of sleep
should be at the mercy of a government which insists on policing
citizens but gives businesses a pass. In support of our fellow
“Snohomies”, citizens and neighbors, being heavily
impacted by night time business noise in the City of Snohomish we all
need to start contacting the Snohomish City Council by telephone as
well as e-mail and demand that they immediately enact and enforce a
night time business noise ordinance in the City of Snohomish limiting
the excessive noise destroying our quality of life.
new “Strong Mayor” needs to get on the right side of
this, the citizen’s side. He needs to speak out publicly and
work in favor of a protective business noise ordinance like all the
other surrounding communities have.
is no need for an expensive noise study. No more delays from the
Snohomish City Council on fictitious grounds. The noise study would
not only be another waste of our tax dollars it’s just another
signal the Snohomish City Council is not going to act. The reason
they won't take action is because the old Council was unduly
influenced in a bogus closed-door session last year. What’s the
real back story to their continued shuck and jive strategy? Do they
think if they can just continue to nod their heads to the affected
citizens and do nothing?
they are hoping that the people will all just be “QUIET!”
and go away?
contact Snohomish City council members as well as the Mayor and share
John Kartak firstname.lastname@example.org
L. Clay, Esq.
is a longtime Snohomish resident, professional musician, writer, keen
observer of the macro and micro,
world traveler and all around bon vivant. You will not want to miss
occasional and insightful
Snohomish Musings in this section of the Sky