Prairie Village exploring options to address growing concerns about construction noise

Prairie Village discussed updating its code to address concerns about construction noise.

The wave of teardown-rebuild projects working through Prairie Village isn’t just a concern to residents who worry new, larger houses are changing the character of their neighborhoods.

It’s also become a headache for homeowners hoping for a little peace and quiet.

In a presentation to the city council Monday, assistant city administrator Jamie Robichaud said staff have noted a growing trend of complaints from residents who say they’re hearing sawing, hammering and loud music from construction sites early in the morning.

As presently written, Prairie Village’s noise ordinances don’t allow construction to begin until 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Many contractors and subcontractors, however, don’t appear to be aware of that restriction, and will start work earlier in the morning.

Police Chief Tim Schwartzkopf and Robichaud said the city faces a difficult situation in enforcing the noise ordinances because they typically don’t receive complaint from residents about early start times until later in the day, after ordinance-violating work has stopped.

“It’s very difficult to issue a citation to someone where you’re not catching them actually violating the code,” Robichaud said.

As such city officials are encouraging residents who are disturbed by construction noises outside of allowed hours to call the police department’s non-emergency line at 913-642-6868 when they construction work under way outside of allowed hours

“We need people to call when it is occurring,” Schwartzkopf said.

But enforcement of the early-morning rules won’t address all of the concerns, noted some members of the council.

Councilman Tucker Poling, who represents Ward 3, where many of the teardown-rebuilt projects are occurring, said construction work dragging on into the evening makes it unpleasant for some residents to be outside.

“I’ve heard a lot about this from my residents, about the noise and not being able to enjoy their decks in the evening and that kind of thing,” Poling said.

Councilwoman Jori Nelson made a motion to look at changing the city’s noise ordinance to put a cap on construction work of 8 p.m. on weekdays, 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Nelson and Poling were the only members of the council to vote in favor of the proposal, with opposing members suggesting the changes could unintentionally affect private homeowners trying to do work on their properties.

Mayor Laura Wassmer said that while educating resident about the need to call in complaints when the violations were occurring was a top priority, she believed the council needed to consider changes to the current code as it pertains to evening hours.

“They could be working on houses until midnight,” Wassmer said of the current code. “I do think we need to address that.”