Zion vacation rentals are making noise in a small town, and locals want the law changed

When it comes to noise, the leaders and residents of the town of Rockville in southwestern Utah are all ears.

After filing complaints about excessive noise from loud parties in West Rockville, the Planning Commission on Tuesday amended the city’s land use code to set time and decibel restrictions to reduce noise from vacation homes and rentals. It also includes fines for violators. The recommended changes will now be submitted to City Council for consideration.

“Hopefully this will be… a solution and solve some of the problems that some have had,” said Planning Commission Chair Jane Brennan.

For retired longtime resident government industrial hygienist Michael Behling, change can’t come soon enough. He maintains that Rockville has been plagued for years by loud parties, which he says have involved motorcycle gangs and drugs.

By Behling’s tally, there’s been just one loud party in 2020, 13 in 2021 and 19 so far this year.

“Rockville has become the center of the party in Washington County,” he said.

City administrators recognize Behling’s concerns but believe they are exaggerated.

“I only know of three people who have actually contacted the city to report incidents,” Mayor Pam Leach said.

While Behling argues that noise is a nuisance everywhere in Rockwell, he said property racketeering in the vacation rental zone the town created in 2018 has been particularly egregious. Located west of Rockville, between State Route 9 and the south side of the Virgin River, the area is home to Zion Red Rock Villa, Zion Red Rock Oasis and Zion Red Rock Cabin – all of which sleep large numbers guests and host weddings, family reunions and corporate retreats.

Behling said the din of music, public address systems and singing and shouting guests at the gatherings was extremely disruptive.

Shelly Cox, who lives next door to the Villa, said the events take place weekly and can attract up to 100 people.

“I don’t let myself be bothered, but they get loud,” she said, adding that she’d rather be a good neighbor than complain.

Cox has seen large buses mistakenly stop in her driveway, which she attributes to poor signage in the area. Partygoers also knocked on his door asking for things. On one occasion, she even found someone rummaging through her carport.

“When I came out and asked, ‘How can I help you?’ They told me they had a dead battery and needed jumper cables,” she recalls. “I told them, ‘You know I have a door, you can knock.’ “

Behling uses sophisticated sound level meters to measure and analyze noise from events on properties and keeps a meticulous electronic log that contains details of each. Over the years he has performed hundreds of sound checks. He said the noise levels at some events – 70 to 100 decibels or more – are so loud he’s sure some revelers have suffered hearing loss.

“At this level, noise is not just a nuisance,” he said. “It is a danger to public health. I even had to wear earplugs at home.

No matter how loud the parties are, Behling’s wife, Linda, worries about the crime the parties might bring.

“Most of the attendees at these parties or events are law-abiding citizens having a good time,” she said in a prepared statement given to city planners at Tuesday’s meeting. “But there may come a time, [the] parties attract people who use illegal drugs or are violent. We may have to deal with an active shooter situation in Rockville, as these individuals are looking for a party in a rural area with little police intervention.

Justin Maybe, owner of Zion Red Rock Villa LLC and the three properties in question, said such concerns were preposterous and reminiscent of the bloated noise around a pool table in the Broadway musical “The Music Man.” (Spoiler alert: the pool table isn’t the cause of all the town’s production problems.)

Maybe he said he had people on site at his properties to monitor noise levels and activity and that he had never had a rave or hosted motorcycle gangs or drug addicts or had trouble with the police.

“Have you looked at our reviews [on our website]He asked. “You don’t get reviews like that, which are not just some of the best in the area, but in the state or the country, by having a lower class clientele or operation. We pride ourselves on high class customers and service.We try to keep a low profile and be good stewards and neighbors.

Springdale Police Lt. JJ Ray agrees, saying Rockville’s noise problem is no worse than anywhere else.

“We’ve had noise complaints at these locations,” he said. “But every time we responded and asked them to shut up, they did. Or we went there and we heard no noise.

Springdale officers patrol Rockville, which does not have its own police force.

City administrators hope the code changes will calm the critics.

In place of the old ordinance, which prohibited excessive noise after 10 p.m., the new language is much more specific. If passed by city council, it would limit nighttime noise levels from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. to 50 A-weighted decibels (dBA), which is about as loud as a quiet conversation. The revised code would limit noise levels between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 60 dBA or less and daytime noise to 90 dBA.

Violators of the city’s noise restrictions would be fined $100 for the first hour of noncompliance and $50 for each additional quarter hour. Noise is defined in the code as the creation of noise that is uncharacteristic of noises commonly heard in the neighborhood, and it covers everything from recreational fighting and gunfire to loud music, shouting, and horse racing. cars, among others.

Leach says the changes will give the code more bite and a bit more bite and applicability.

“I think Rockville is taking the appropriate action,” the mayor said. “We are not the Central Party. We are not losing control of our peaceful town.

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