Webinar to focus on addressing noise in Pennsylvania's communities

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Noise and its impacts on communities will be the topic of a web-based land-use seminar presented Sept. 19 by Penn State Extension.

Presenting the 75-minute webinar starting at noon will be attorney Shannon Brown.

Noise can cause serious health issues and can undermine the quality of life in Pennsylvania communities, she pointed out.

"Current scientific research shows that noise can cause significant, adverse health effects such as heart disease, diabetes, learning impairment in children, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, hearing loss, psychological disturbances and stress," Brown said. 

However, communities possess health, safety and welfare powers to effectively address noise issues and protect their residents.

"Municipalities clearly have authority to control noise pollution, and enforcement may be simpler than is sometimes assumed when the right tools are applied," Brown said. "Furthermore, municipalities might risk liability themselves for not effectively controlling noise and protecting fundamental, private property rights such as quiet enjoyment."

Brown will discuss three examples of noise ordinances during the webinar, along with the formidable problems of trying to address noise through typically outdated, general, nuisance ordinances.

The presentation will cover medical effects of noise; working definitions of noise; constitutional issues arising from noise; statutory authority for controlling noise pollution; and the basics of sound and decibel measurements (which might not be needed). In addition, Brown will cover how to distinguish between noise ordinances, nuisance ordinances and zoning; and three available regulatory standards for addressing noise in a noise ordinance — plainly audible, decibel/sound-level, or a hybrid of plainly audible and sound level. 

"Addressing Noise in Pennsylvania's Communities and Neighborhoods" is the third webinar in the Penn State Extension Summer/Fall Land Use Webinar series that runs to Nov. 14. The webinar series assists municipal elected and appointed officials, planners, landowners, farmers, and community organizations in being informed with regard to land use issues and decisions in their communities.

Other topics and dates in the webinar series include the following:

— July 18: "Regulating Short-term Rentals"

— Aug. 15: "The Changing Stormwater Landscape: Are We Creating Actual Solutions or Expensive Dreams?"

— Oct. 17: "Economic Profiles and Assessments: What You Will Learn about Your Community and What Others May Learn about You"

— Nov. 14: "Property Law Issues Involving Public Rights, Open Space, and Access to Private Lands"

All of these programs will be recorded and available for later viewing.

The cost of the webinar series is $50 for all five sessions, or $95 for all five sessions for those who want to receive AICP certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association. The cost is also $95 for all five sessions for professional engineers needing PDH credits. 

In addition, registered landscape architects can receive continuing education credits for a fee of $65.

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at ptw3@psu.edu. To register for the webinars, visit the website

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Last Updated August 31, 2018