Springfield, Missouri noise amplification rule gets pushback

Posted: Dec. 16, 2016 2:52 pm

Springfield officials said new rules proposed to regulate the use of noise amplification devices won't restrict what people say, only their volume.

The attorney representing a preacher arrested after delivering sermons downtown told council members Monday that they were interfering with religious speech, the Springfield News-Leader ( ) reported.

"This is content neutral because it's not based on any message of speech, instead it is based on volume," city attorney Amanda Callaway said.

Street preacher Aaron Brummit was charged with multiple municipal ordinance violations in 2013 after a complaint about his amplifying equipment in public spaces. After reaching an agreement in 2014 with the city to see charges deferred in exchange for limited time and manner of Brummit's sermons, police continued to hear complaints.

The proposed amendments to the law governing noise and peace disturbances said people wouldn't be allowed to use an amplification system to transmit sounds if the volume unreasonably disturbs or alarms people, or if the sound is plainly audible 50 feet away or more from the speakers between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

People also wouldn't be allowed to use the devices if the volume unreasonably disturbs or interferes with other activities or patrons of activities that have a city permit.

Callaway, the city attorney, said the noise ordinance in general was outdated and needed cleaning up so it would be less confusing for residents and prosecutors. The amplified-sound regulations were just one portion of that law.

Council members are likely to vote on the proposal in January.

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