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Buckley kids safe to practice music; noise ordinance doesn't apply to them

Young musicians need no longer fear a civil infraction for practicing their instrument in Buckley.

City Council members unanimously agreed Feb. 8 that children practicing musical instruments should not be limited by city's noise ordinance. The ordinance restricts certain noises that can be heard more than 50 feet from a domicile – things like car horns, music and raised voices.

The amendment originated with a parent who appeared before a council committee in the fall. The parent home schooled his children and part of their curriculum required musical practice. A neighbor complained, leading police to the parent's house several times.

A subsequent examination of the city code revealed that children practicing instruments was, in fact, in violation of the noise ordinance.

Even the school band practicing outdoors could be a violation of the city code as it was written, according to the bill summary that went before the full council.

The exception won't extend to adults practicing musical instruments.

"One issue I can see coming down the line is that there will be adults who want to learn a musical instrument and they're not exempted by the code," Councilman Doug Harple said.

Councilman Randy Reed disagreed.

"I think that, as an adult, you have more options," Reed said. "Meaning you can move into the garage and take steps to soundproof that room if you want to play an instrument."

A separate amendment was tacked onto the vote when Councilman James Montgomery noted a section of the ordinance that dealt with audio systems used examples that might already be, or could become, outdated, like tape players, radios and compact disc players. That section was modified to just read "audio sound system."

In other action Feb. 8, the council:

• approved the Buckley 5K Run for June 18.

• authorized Mayor Pat Johnson to spend as much as $25,000 from the utilities and equipment reserve fund to purchase a track-treaded dump truck for landslides in areas difficult to reach by normal dump trucks.

• acknowledged a proclamation by Kiwanis that February 2011 would become "Kiwanis Children's Cancer Cure Month."

• heard from resident Marvin Sundstrom who complained about council procedure. He specifically criticized motions made and voted on during committee and staff reports without placement on the meeting agenda.

• approved the purchase of a new public announcement microphone system, at a cost of nearly $4,000, for council meetings.

• authorized a natural gas supply commitment through 2013.

• approved a change order of more than $5,200 to go to EnCo for additional work on the state Route 410 realignment project's wetland mitigation plan.

• authorized special inspection services on the new fire station project, at a cost of nearly $6,000.

• granted an easement to Puget Sound Energy to install utilities for the new fire station.

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