Understanding Hoboken’s Noise Ordinance

Key Definitions

CONSTRUCTION – means any site preparation, assembly, erection, repair, alteration or similar action of buildings or structures.
DEMOLITION – means any dismantling, destruction or removal of buildings, structures, or roadways.
EMERGENCY WORK – means any work or action necessary at the site of an emergency to restore or deliver essential services including, but not limited to, repairing water, gas, electricity, telephone, sewer facilities, or public transportation facilities, removing fallen trees on public rights-of-way, dredging navigational waterways, or abating life-threatening conditions.
NOISE CONTROL OFFICER (NCO) – means an employee of a local, county or regional health agency which is certified to perform noise enforcement activities. All NCOs must receive noise enforcement training as specified by the DEP and be certified NCOs.
NOISE CONTROL INVESTIGATOR (NCI) – means an employee of a municipality who is knowledgeable about their model noise ordinance and enforcement procedures. A Noise Control Investigator may only enforce sections of the ordinance that do not require the use of a sound level meter. In Hoboken, the following officers of the city shall have the power to enforce this chapter; Building Code Official(s), Zoning Officer, Health Officer(s), Environmental Services Inspectors, Police Officers and the Office of Emergency Management.
PLAINLY AUDIBLE – means any sound that can be detected by a NCO or an NCI using his or her unaided hearing. As an example, the detection of the rhythmic bass component of music is plainly audible sound. The NCO or NCI need not determine the title, specific words, or the artist performing the song.
SOUND PRODUCTION DEVICE – means any device whose primary function is the production of sound, including, but not limited to any, musical instrument, loudspeaker, radio, television, digital or analog music player, public address system or sound-amplifying equipment.
WEEKDAY – means any day that is not a federal holiday, beginning on Monday at 7:00 a.m. and ending on the following Friday at 6:00 p.m.
WEEKENDS – begin on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ending on the following Monday at 7:00 a.m.

Basis for Adoption and Enforcement

In February 2011, the Administration introduced and the City Council passed the new noise ordinance. The ordinance was reviewed and approved by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and became effective on March 14, 2011. Click here to view the full text of the ordinance.

The basis for the new Hoboken Noise Ordinance is the NJDEP “model noise control ordinance.” The NJDEP’s model ordinance establishes applicability, exemptions, enforcement measures and protocols and sets maximum permissible sound levels (see Tables I, II, III and IV in the code).

In addition to decibel (dB) specific measures, the ordinance also establishes a list of restricted uses and activities, and limitations for noise from motor vehicles.

Sustained noise from a stationary sources such as mechanical equipment, a commercial facility, or a residential or multi-use property is subject to enforcement by a Noise Control Officer (NCO). NCOs are trained and certified by the State of NJ to use metering equipment to take noise level readings and perform noise enforcement activities.

Vehicular noises and noises generated by restricted uses or activities may be enforced by a Noise Control Investigator (NCI). NCIs are municipal officers who have not received formal training but who are knowledgeable of the noise ordinance and enforcement procedures. For purposes of Hoboken municipal enforcement, the following officers and agents of the City shall have the power and authority to enforce the ordinance; Building Code Officials, Zoning Officer, Health Officers, Environmental Services Investigators, the Hoboken Police   Department and the Office of Emergency Management.

Violations of the noise ordinance are subject to a civil penalty (fine) up to $3,000 per offense.

Restricted Uses and Activities

The following standards shall apply to the activities or sources  of sound set forth below:

  • Power tools, home maintenance and yard maintenance equipment, when operated by the property owner or tenant shall only be used between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  •  Power tools, home maintenance and yard maintenance equipment, when operated by a commercial operator or public employee shall only be used between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, or between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekends or federal holidays.
  • All construction and demolition activity, excluding emergency work, is limited to the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. No work shall be performed on weekends or federal holidays unless special permission has been granted by a Land Use Board subject to approval of a noise mitigation plan.
  • EXCEPTION: Renovations or repairs to existing owner-occupied or rental dwellings, community facilities, or schools may be performed on Weekends between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. subject to compliance with acceptable dB levels.
  • All motorized equipment shall be operated with a muffler and/or other sound reduction device.
  • Building and vehicular burglar alarms must terminate after 5 minutes for continuous airborne sound and 15 minutes for intermittent sound.
  • Sound production devices shall not be operated on a public space in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. or at a distance of 25 feet between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
  • A property owner or tenant shall not allow any domesticated animal to howl, yelp, bark or squawk for 5 minutes without interruption, or for 20 minutes intermittently.
  • Noise originating from a commercial establishment shall not be clearly audible at a distance of 25 feet after 10:00 p.m.

Restricted Vehicular Noise and Activity

  • No person shall remove, render inoperative, or less effective than originally equipped, any noise control device or design element on any vehicle.
  • A motorcycle shall not be operated stationary or in motion unless it has a   muffler that complies with and is labeled in accordance with Federal Noise Regulations under 40 CFR Part 205.
  • Music amplification from a vehicle shall not be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet in any direction between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. or 25 feet in any direction between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
  • Ice cream and other food vending vehicles, while in residential neighborhoods, are prohibited from the playing of jingles while stationary. Jingles may only be played when the vehicle is in motion.
  • Commercial vehicles are not permitted to idle for more than 3 minutes in any residential district.
  • Use of a vehicle horn is illegal except as a warning in situations of imminent danger.