Prairie Village will draft private property noise ordinance as teardown trend continues

Ward 1 Councilmember Jori Nelson said she had brought the issue forward in July after residents contacted her “because of the extensive amount of teardowns and rebuilds happening in Ward 1.” File photo of a new build home in Prairie Village.

The Prairie Village City Council’s committee of the whole voted 7 to 3 Monday night to direct city staff and the city attorney to start writing a private property construction noise ordinance for the council to consider at a later meeting.

Ward 1 Councilmember Jori Nelson said she had brought the issue forward in July after residents contacted her “because of the extensive amount of teardowns and rebuilds happening in Ward 1.”

“With the construction on my street and the other streets beside me, we’ve had 20 teardowns and rebuilds in the last couple of years, six of them occurring within 50 yards of my home within the last year,” Nelson said.

“And new home constructions are happening less than 6 feet away from our residents’ bedroom windows — 6 feet. … And we have months and months of constant hammering. We have trucks lined up to work, staging at 6:45 in the morning. We’ve been listening to this seven days a week all day long and including major holidays.”

Prairie Village’s current ordinance against disturbing the peace allows construction as follows:

  • 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday
  • 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday
  • 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday
  • 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

When the council discussed the issue last month, the city had 51 active permits and now has 67, with 44% of those in Ward 1, Nelson said. No other city in the area “is experiencing this kind of building of single family homes in landlocked, first ring suburban cities.”

The committee discussed various possible noise restrictions on private property construction, including start and stop times on weekdays and weekends and whether to allow construction on weekends and holidays. City staff presented the committee with three options to consider at the meeting: every day including holidays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; or 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The committee voted to direct city staff and City Attorney David Waters to write a draft ordinance with the 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. restriction. Public infrastructure improvements would continue to be allowed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Prairie Village city council’s committee of the whole voted to direct city staff and City Attorney David Waters to write a draft ordinance with the 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. noise restriction. Public infrastructure improvements would continue to be allowed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Last month, city staff reviewed current noise regulations compared to restrictions imposed by Mission Hills, which staff used as a template, and other neighboring cities and presented that information at Monday’s meeting.

Mission Hills allows construction from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and not at all on Sundays and holidays except for emergency repairs.

Waters said that distinguishing in the restrictions between a homeowner living in the home doing repairs themselves and a homeowner hiring a contractor to do work “sounds more problematic to me.”

“We’d have to find a reason as to why if I swing a hammer it’s OK (but) if the person I hire swings that hammer, it’s not,” he said.

Ward 2 Councilmember Inga Selders favored prohibiting construction on holidays, which she called “sacred time for families to be together,” and reducing hours for construction on Sundays. But some people are paid time and a half on holidays and Sundays, Ward 5 Councilmember Courtney McFadden said, “and I hate the idea of stripping those things from people that choose to work those days.”

Ward 1 Councilmember Chad Herring said he thought “the early morning hours are particularly onerous for our residents” and that more discussion was needed about whether to exclude Sundays and holidays. McFadden said that allowing construction work to start at 7 a.m. was important for workers’ health in hot summer weather and that reducing the number of hours during which construction may occur will delay completion.

Mayor Eric Mikkelson said several cities listed in the staff report had later start times on weekends than on weekdays.

“That’s probably a good idea,” Mikkelson said.

The council took up the issue two years ago amid a wave of teardown-rebuild projects underway throughout Prairie Village.