Summit County commissioners set date for public hearing, final vote on changes to noise ordinance |

Summit County commissioners set date for public hearing, final vote on changes to noise ordinance

County would not authority to enforce policy in ski resort areas, though residents could themselves take it to court

Short-term rental properties in the Copper Mountain Resort village are pictured Aug. 13, 2021. Under proposed changes to the county's noise ordinance, ski resort areas such as Copper would be exempt from noise levels — as allowed under state statute.
Ashley Low/Summit Daily News archive

The Summit Board of County Commissioners is eyeing an April 25 vote on changes to its decades-old noise ordinance which emboldens the sheriff’s office to regulate excessive noise in residential, commercial and industrial areas. 

The April 25 meeting will also feature an opportunity for public comment from residents seeking to speak on the proposed changes before the vote. 

The proposals mainly serve to clean up the existing ordinance’s language, such as removing a provision that applies to vehicles operating on private property or public property that is not a road. According to Assistant County Attorney Cameron Turpin, Summit is one of just three Colorado counties that has that provision, which she previously called “unnecessary.” 

Other proposals seek to better clarify the rules around noise for different areas of the county by better defining noise levels and metrics, enforcement in different zones — residential, commercial, light industrial and industrial — as well as a slew of exemptions. 

Under those exemptions are properties used “for the purpose of manufacturing, maintaining, or grooming machine-made snow.” According to Turpin, that would include ski resort areas in the county. 

“There were concerns about the resorts and how this (ordinance) would impact them,” Turpin said. “I would think that a ski resort also falls into commercial business so the county cannot enforce this ordinance on them.”

County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence, during a previous discussion of the ordinance changes, had questioned whether the ordinance would have “unintended consequences” on resorts, which she said were already likely in violation of the 60 to 55-decibel limit for commercial areas and likely approaching levels closer to 70 or 80 decibels.

Though the county is restricted in how relaxed it can allow its restrictions on noise to be — since it must abide by a state statute that guides noise policy for municipalities — it is allowed to exempt resort areas under state law. 

However, a resident living in the resort area could still protest noise violations based on state standards and would have the ability to bring that complaint to a district court, according to Turpin. 

“A resident could do it themselves, but we can’t enforce our ordinance,” Turpin said. “If a private citizen went to court, they wouldn’t be using our ordinance. They’d be using what’s in statute.”

Lawrence said the clarity around the county’s role on enforcement will help avoid “putting our ski resorts in a really difficult position where they’re just trying to do their daily business.”

“I think this is great,” she said.

Noise limits in county zones

Under the county’s noise ordinance, various areas are subject to different noise limits. Noise is measured in decibels. At around 50 decibels, the noise would be as loud as a refrigerator. At 70, it would be as loud as a washing machine. Here’s how noise levels differ across the county:


7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — 55 decibels

7 p.m. to 7 a.m. — 50 decibels


7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — 60 decibels

7 p.m. to 7 a.m. — 55 decibels

Light industrial 

7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — 70 decibels

7 p.m. to 7 a.m. — 65 decibels


7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — 80 decibels

7 p.m. to 7 a.m. — 75 decibels

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