Wenatchee council won’t exempt churches from temporary noise controls

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WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee City Council on Thursday knocked down a measure to exempt churches from the kind of noise controls placed on outdoor events held by other organizations.

The city placed interim noise controls last year on new that are due to sunset at the end of February. The temporary controls bar any use of outdoor amplification by “neighborhood centers, auditoriums, places of public assembly, and places of public worship” in residential zones. Thursday’s 4-3 vote extends those controls for another six months.

But councilmembers set aside a proposed version of the ordinance that would have exempted “places of public worship” from the ban on amplified sound.

The exemption was opposed by neighbors of Grace City Church, which expects to finish construction this year on its new Sunnyslope worship center. They say outdoor events on the worship site have already disturbed their peace.

Mayor Frank Kuntz suggested the church exemption that was defeated. He told NCWLIFE it was something local faith leaders asked for.

“When you talk about getting rid of outdoor amplification, you have a number of churches in town that like to do outdoor events,” Kuntz said. “… There’s a real issue between how much do you allow in a residential area, with those sort of noises that come with amplification, especially in the evenings.”