Proposal could target Solo Cup noise

Proposal could target Solo Cup noise

URBANA — City officials could have an extra tool against sound like that coming from the Solo Cup plant if the Urbana City Council continues to support an ordinance change it was presented on Monday.

The proposed change to the city law does not single out the plant, which lies behind a residential neighborhood at 1505 E. Main St. But it does create regulations on "mechanical stationary noise" and prescribes a plan for officials to deal with it.

For years, the Solo Cup plant has drawn complaints from nearby residents, who say they are bothered by the industrial noise around the clock.

"The Solo Cup situation opened our eyes to the fact that our ordinance, the way it's written right now, is not very easy to use," Urbana planning manager Robert Myers said.

Alderman Dennis Roberts, D-Ward 5, said it appears that the owners of the Solo Cup plant are working on reducing noise levels after about two years' worth of complaints and a lot of city involvement. But still, the new ordinance will provide an extra safeguard.

"I think if it hadn't been for the constant complaints that have been given to that industry, there would be a lot less progress," Roberts said.

Industrial noise presents a problem for the city because the law is not set up well to deal with it, Myers said. With "loud and raucous" noise, like that which comes from a party, police can tell partiers to quiet down. If the noisy residents don't respond to an initial warning, police can issue a ticket on their second visit.

But with industrial noise, it's a bit more complicated.

"It's not like they're just turning off a switch and stopping the noise," Myers said.

In the case of industrial noise, the new ordinance would allow city officials to force a property owner to come up with a plan to reduce sound levels after that property receives a noise complaint. Officials would also require the property owner to set a reasonable timeline for doing so.

"Mechanical stationary noise" would apply to more than just industrial noise. If a resident's air conditioner is broken and loud, the proposed ordinance could apply there, said city planner Jeff Engstrom.

The new ordinance would require that daytime mechanical noise be no louder than 60 decibels, which is comparable to the sound of conversational speech. At night, the noise would not be allowed to exceed 55 decibels.

The proposed ordinance also would allow construction activities to begin one hour earlier. Right now, outdoor construction involving power equipment within 600 feet of a residence cannot begin before 8 a.m. That would drop to 7 a.m. in the new ordinance.

"Roofers in particular, in the middle of summer, it can be dangerously hot working up on a roof," Myers said. "The earlier you start, the safer it can be for people working in the construction industry."

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Joe American wrote on April 23, 2013 at 8:04 am

I always roll my eyes when someone moves in near an airport, and then complains that they don't like the noise. 

cmstites wrote on April 23, 2013 at 8:04 am

Sounds like Urbana is trying to force another business out of the area..apparently they think jobs are easy to come by in illinois's economy.

billbtri5 wrote on April 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

i get a kick out of how they feel government is in charge . all of this pesky private sector activity ..come on urbana, just make everything against the law and get it over with...

mht wrote on April 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

Oh, Urbana, why, why WHY??  Why do we do this to ourselves?  I'm so embarrassed.  

Trapper wrote on April 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

WHY WHY WHY DID YOU RE ELECT THE USELESS MAYOR THIS PAST APRIL YOU AND YOUR FELLOW TOWN FOLK HAD THE CHANCE TO RID YOUR SELF OF THIS LAME DUCK LOCAL GOVERMENT. YET YOU DIDN'T. WHAT DID YOU THINK EVERYTHING WAS GOING TO GET BETTER HER NEXT TERM? DIDNT YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM THE MESS AND WASTED MONEY FROM THE MAYOR'S OFFICE ON THE LANDMARK HOTEL OR WHATEVER THEY ARE CALLING THAT MONEY PIT FOR YOUR TAX DOLLARS NOW.

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on April 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

There are a few tidbits of information missing from the story.....first, has the level of noise that has been emanating from Solo Cup gone up in just the last two years, or has it been the same for the last couple of decades or longer?  If it's the former, well, then maybe the neighbors and the city have a point.....if it's the later, I'd tell them to go bark at the moon, if I were Solo......secondly, at what distance is this new 60 decibel limit measured at? ....is it from Solo's parking lot or clear over by the ball fields? (it does make a difference).   The story, as written, is analogous to that of the people who moved near the south farms and then complained about the smell.

allstoveup wrote on April 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Wasn't Solo Cup there first?  Didn't this same thing happen when Meijer went in and the houses went in later?

Why is Urbana so backward?  I don't understand at all.  People are so selfish and self absorbed.   Urbana has enough problems getting any business....this can't help.

Janet wrote on April 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

That last comment jogged my memory....NG wrote about this a year ago.

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2011-05-01/urbana-acknowledges-residents-complaints-about-solo-cup-noise.html

I feel for these people. It does happen that existing noise output can increase; I have had a similar situation with the County Market in Champaign (the manager indelicately responded to my compaints about a temporary refrigerator truck going 24/7 by saying "That's life behind a grocery store"). On the one hand you can say people should know better, but sometimes, that's not the whole story (and maybe people can't afford to move).  The NG covered the opening of the Urbana Meijer years ago. The residents in pricey condos right behind their loading dock apparetnly thought it would remain a grassy field forever. I would have thought the same, but don't now only because of their experience.  Noise sucks, and most businesses could give a sh**.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm

At the risk of being called an Urbana Basher again; this is just another example of why Urbana has no business tax base.  The recent howl from Urbana was that the city was  subsidizing "charity cases" from other communities because Urbana was losing Carle's tax revenue.  Urbana was feeling picked on.  Now, Urbana is chasing industry out of the city.  Solo Cup was sold to another company recently.  The entire building, and operation could have sat empty with no tax revenue coming in.  It may end up sitting empty with the employees laid off due to Urbana's whims. 

If only an intellectual company with no noise, smell, excessive traffic, or lights at night would move to Urbana.  The employees would ride only bicycles, or take the MTD to work.  There would be no large trucks.  A park like area with sculptures would surround the plant with a bandstand for public musicians.  Oh..., the property taxes would necessarily have to be HIGH.  Maybe, a top rate hotel with municipal subsidies would be better than an industrial plant?  If only a state grant could be obtained for it.....

jdmac44 wrote on April 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm

They already moved their corporate office, don't be surprised if the manufacturing goes away too.

Loren Anderson wrote on April 24, 2013 at 10:04 am
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My self esteem is So lo, I thought this was a joke.

jotimm05 wrote on April 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Was Solo Cup Company bought out by Dart Container Corporation? Is solo just a subsidiary of dart?

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 28, 2013 at 10:04 am

Dart bought out Solo.  The Holzman family ran Solo from it's beginning.  The brothers ran it after their father retired.  There was another plant in Ada, Oklahoma; and headquarters in Highland Park, Illinois.  They finally sold to Dart.