The number of noise complaints made in Tauranga this year has rocketed compared to 2006 - with warm, dry weather before June being blamed as the main reason.
A whopping 2111 complaints were made in the first five months of 2007, an increase of 801 on the corresponding period in 2006.
The biggest rise came in March when an extra 292 complaints were registered compared to March 2006, though February was not far behind.
Nearly 400 excessive noise notices have been issued in Tauranga this year while 31 stereos have been seized, a fall of three on the same period as last year. A total of 69 stereos were taken off noisy residents in 2006. Chris Horan, monitoring team leader at Tauranga City Council, said there had been a high number of complaints this year and the weather was a contributing factor.
"It has definitely been much busier than last year and is weather-dependent.
"If it rains people have the windows closed. If it is warm people are outside and they often play music," Mr Horan said.
"We had a much more settled summer than last year and so the climate conditions are part of it [a rise in complaints].
"We also becoming a bigger city and becoming more cramped. With a lot more people, we are dealing with more complaints."
Anyone who has a stereo taken off them has to pay $250 to get it back, though few people do as the equipment is rarely worth anywhere near that much, Mr Horan said.
Unclaimed stereos are later sold at auction with the proceeds going back into the council's budget for noise monitoring. However, Mr Horan said most stereos only ever reached about $20 at auction.
The latest noise complaint figures were provided to the Bay of Plenty Times by Tauranga City Council.
However, our request under the Official Information Act for a list of the 10 noisiest streets in Tauranga with the highest number of complaints this year was turned down by the council.
One reason chief executive Stephen Town gave for withholding the information was because it could not be provided without "substantial collation or research".
The Bay Times will appeal this decision to the Office of the Ombudsmen.
The council has the power under the Resource Management Act to control ``excessive or unreasonable' noise and provides a round-the-clock noise control service.
The first complaint a person makes to noise control is merely logged. The resident then has to wait one hour and call again if the noise has continued, at which point a noise control officer is dispatched.
An officer will then make a subjective assessment from the boundary of the complainant's property as to whether the noise is excessive.
"The noise needs to be clearly audible," Mr Horan said.
"If you can hear the words of the song then it is too loud."
If the noise is excessive the officer will issue an excessive noise notice which says the person at fault has to turn the volume down immediately.
If the officers are called back again the equipment will be seized, though police must provide an escort on to the property.
Mr Horan said the bulk of residential complaints were made on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and were about noisy parties.
But Mr Horan said gripes in the past had been made about wind chimes and budgies.
"We want to encourage people to complain and we want to deal with it appropriately," he added.
But to avoid annoying a neighbour, the council says simple steps to take are to ensure your burglar alarm cuts off after 15 minutes; not to start noisy equipment early in the morning or late at night, and to tell neighbours in advance if you are having a party.
To make a noise complaint, call the council on 0800 116 803.
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