July 22, 2024 Donate

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Lodi Township Debates New Noise Ordinance Amid Community Concerns

By Carleen Nelson-Nesvig

On June 4th, the Lodi Township Board met to discuss a newly proposed noise ordinance that has stirred debate within the community. Discussions highlighted a struggle between maintaining rural tranquility and addressing modern nuisances.

The draft aimed to address complaints of noise. Residents argued that the proposed measures were broad and inconsistent, targeting pets unfairly.

Township Supervisor Godek opened the meeting, saying, “When it comes to dogs, this issue emerged from a case involving a dog barking all night in the western part of the township. Neighbors couldn’t sleep. The dog was out all night,” she explained. “I am a dog person; I’ve had dogs all my life. This draft is our attempt to address the issue, and we’re here to hear your thoughts.”

Attendees felt inconsistencies in the draft, which allowed noises like bells, whistles, and motorbikes while penalizing dog owners for their pets’ natural reactions to such disturbances. “Why should trucks be treated less punitively than barking dogs?” attendees questioned. Attendees emphasized the importance of dogs for security.

Critics mentioned the draft’s vagueness, questioning terms like “reasonable” and the specific duration that constitutes continuous barking. They argued that the lack of clear standards could lead to arbitrary enforcement. “Lodi Township is mostly rural; we shouldn’t be subject to the same rules as city dwellers,” one resident remarked.

Mike Brewer expressed fears that the ordinance was a veiled attempt to target specific institutions, such as the Copperleaf Crossing Conservancy.

Ari Goldstein, an attorney representing Copperleaf Crossing Conservancy, cited a Michigan Court of Appeals decision where a similar ordinance in Grand Rapids was struck down for being unconstitutionally vague.

Following public comments, Godek asked the Board: “Should we continue working on this?” The answer was yes.

At a June 12th, working session Godek first addressed the controversy: “This issue has been blown out of proportion. We started this in 2020, but it was never approved or brought to a Board meeting.”

During this session, changes were proposed. The wording in the section on animals was modified from “extended noise” to “continuous noise,” with specific times defined to reduce ambiguity. Other changes included removing decibel levels and adjusting permitted noise hours for events.

After the meeting, community members gathered outside the Township Hall to discuss the changes. Many expressed optimism about the collaborative approach.