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Editorial: What is a little peace and quiet worth?

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We're not opposed to the idea of introducing a noise ordinance in the city of Farmington. Everybody deserves a life of relative peace and quiet if that's what they're after. If there is an easy way to accomplish that, then by all means go ahead.

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We wonder, though, how much effort such an ordinance is really worth. The issue of a noise ordinance seems to come up every couple of years in Farmington, usually after a particularly loud event. In this case, Farmington City Council members raised the possibility of regulating noise following the two-day grand opening of the new Tailgaters Bar and Grill, which featured outdoor concerts Friday and Saturday. Council member Jason Bartholomay said he could hear Saturday's performance from his home on the north end of the city.

But such events don't happen often in Farmington. The Farmington American Legion, when it occupied the building Tailgaters now owns, held outdoor concerts maybe once a year. Other events that might generate the kind of noise that would lead to complaints are rare.

Given that, how many city resources should go into preparing an ordinance to regulate them? A quick online check found that sound level meters, which would be necessary for any kind of objective enforcement of a noise ordinance, sell for anywhere from $19 to more than $600. We don't know how good a meter would have to be for police to use it, but we suspect it's closer to the high end than the low.

The cost of enforcing the ordinance after that likely wouldn't be high. Police would only have to react to complaints. And assuming those don't start cropping up on a weekly basis it shouldn't be an issue.

The bigger cost could come in the preparation of the ordinance. Getting something like that ready takes staff time both to research other, similar ordinances and to put together something that works for Farmington.

If that can be done without too much cost, then fine. But given the focus the city has put on cutting its budget, we wonder how big a priority it should be.

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