Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to exempt snow removal contractors from the city noise ordinance.
Council had been poised to vote on the second and final reading of an ordinance creating the exemption more than a month ago. But after hearing from constituents, it agreed to study the issue further. Residents have complained to the police department that heavy equipment working through the night to remove snow from private parking lots, often disrupts their sleep.
Council agreed to investigate the possibility of creating a quiet period in the early morning hours.
Subsequently, council heard from a number of snow removal contractors protesting the impracticality of limiting snow removal hours in a town with abundant snowfall.
Council members heard John Morrone ask them Tuesday night to take their time making a decision, considering that the snow removal season is over for the spring and summer.
"I'd still like to see if we can't do something for the residents in town, and still make it reasonable for contractors," Morrone said. "We have some time to think about it, and there's no need to rush something through that doesn't meet everyone's needs."
Morrone said he thought his original comments on March 7 had been misunderstood.
He said his main focus was to limit the size and noise levels of equipment working close to residential neighborhoods in Steamboat's Old Town. He added he felt 24-hour operations should be possible if contractors were willing to adjust their scheduling.
C.D. Johnson of Johnson Excavation Inc. told council that noise impacts of commercial snow removal have posed an increasing problem for about five years.
"We have tried to minimize the impact on residential areas through scheduling," Johnson said.
However, he said the need to plow the parking lots of numerous businesses prior to 7 a.m., plus the need to clear public buildings like the downtown post office and the public schools before cars arrive at 6:30 a.m., places constraints on his operations.
"If there was another way, over 30 years, we should have surely looked for it and fount it," Johnson said.
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