Sandy Springs is making after-hour construction noise variances more complicated and expensive to get, and limiting them to five per project.

Noise variances allow construction to occur outside of the city’s normally approved hours and days. Those standard hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, with no Sunday or holiday hours.

Under the old rules, contractors could essentially have unlimited noise variances for a one-time $250 fee, due to “ambiguous” code language, Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert told City Council Feb. 7.

“It’s become a matter of convenience, and it’s inconveniencing some of our residential areas,” Tolbert said.

The new rule allows city staff to issue up to two variance permits for a $250 fee each time. A contractor can then go to the city’s Board of Appeals to request up to three more variances for a $500 fee each time.

The new rule drew some questions about whether it is too restrictive—or not restrictive enough.

Councilmember Tibby DeJulio wondered whether the five-variance limit could limit the ability to speed up road projects, where traffic tie-ups might bother neighbors more than sound.

“I would hate to open that door,” Tolbert replied, noting that sound impacts can be unpredictable.

Resident Tochie Blad noted that the new rule explicitly allows more variances than before and doesn’t clarify the confusions of multiple contractors working on the same project. She said that with the new rule, “basically, you’re creating more exceptions to the rule, and it makes it harder to enforce…Tonight, I think ‘Sleepless in Sandy Springs’ could be our new tagline.”

“I think this is a good balance in public policy,” said Mayor Rusty Paul, adding that the council can tweak the rule further if construction noise remains a problem.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

One reply on “Sandy Springs tightens after-hours construction noise rule”

  1. OK, a lot of journalism missing here. What is the primary reason for the noise variance’s given. How about the top 5 reasons? Anything.

    Our cul de sac had about 22 homes on it when we moved here 15 years ago,all originally built in the mid ’50’s with 4 having been torn down and new put in place. Every year since moving in there has been new construction and only 5 original homes remain. Any one at city hall have an idea what it’s like to live with 15 years of constant construction?

    Can I advise enforcing the time to start of 7:30 am and not allowing lumber trucks and others to park their Semi Truck on residential streets, while idling, at say 6:30 am or delivering. How about not allowing them to deliver late after 7:30? Sunday, same thing.

    Now, want to keep growth to a reasonable pace? Do away with this so that build times are maintained within the law without variance.

    Have builders/contractors so got the time of job completion wrong in the bid that they need noise variances to get the job done on time?

    Did they low ball the bid based on ‘time’ and need to work beyond the legal, allowed time?

    What opt out of laws can citizens pay for? How about $100 to pass on double yellow lines of side streets? I didn’t plan for the time to wait for others so….

    How about $100 for motorcyclists to be able to ‘filter’ like the rest of the world and bicycles here? Not anyone’s fault you chose to sit in a car but your own who has time for that?

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