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I Forge Iron

Pesky Neighbor

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I live I Dubuque, Iowa. I would love to be closer to some other blacksmiths. I know of a few here, but have only seen them at the museum when they did the blacksmithing days in may. Would be nice if we could do some hammer ins or such. I am still waiting for the letter from the zoning inspector. He and the residential building inspector will be showing up on Monday morning. I am not going to back down, I will be civil and respectful, but will take it as far as I can. But, I can't be within the code until I know how to do so, guess will have to wait for Monday and then go from there.

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Here in the Bay Area we have the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.  Busy body neighbors report anything with smoke and they send a couple of their over compensated lackies out to check it out.  Usually they will warn you the first time and then citations after that.  The problem with this agency is that it is regional so the citizens really don't have any voice in it.  They do crazy stuff like last Christmas they banned fires in firplaces on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I don't think wood burning fireplaces are even allowed in new construction anymore.


We are kind of lucky where we are because it is semi rural.  When it isn't so dry we have been known to have bonfires out back, or as we like to call them "agricultural burns".  We don't complain when the neighobrs have had a few and start shooting their pistols and they don't complain about us either.  It works best for everyone that way.

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I did some test with a decibel meter My wife download to her phone. running the power hammer was 80 dbi. and hammer to anvil 85 dbi. well with in the safe zone for hearing. Then you need to know what the county level is. I figure I know the noise level that I am producing and if some one shows up to challenge the level I will just let them tell me what range I should be in then I will pull out my meter and show them what I have. Radio shack sells one.

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How loud is dangerous?



Typical dbA levels

190 dBA Heavy weapons, 10 m behind the weapon (greatest level)
180 dBA Toy pistol fired close to ear (greatest level)
170 dBA
Slap on the ear, fire cracker explodes on shoulder, small arms
at a distance of 50 cm (greatest level)
160 dBA Hammer stroke on brass tubing or steel plate at 1 m distance,
airbag deployment very close at a distance of 30 cm (greatest level)
150 dBA Hammer stroke in a smithy at 5 m distance (greatest level)
130 dBA Loud hand clapping at 1 m distance (greatest level)
120 dBA Whistle at 1 m distance, test run of a jet at 15 m distance
Threshold of pain, above this fast-acting hearing damage in short action is possible
115 dBA Take-off sound of planes at 10 m distance
110 dBA Siren *) at 10 m distance, frequent sound level in discotheques and close
to loudspeakers at rock concerts, violin close to the ear of an orchestra
musicians (greatest level)
105 dBA Chain saw at 1 m distance, banging car door at 1 m distance (greatest level),
racing car at 40 m distance, possible level with music head phones
100 dBA Frequent level with music via head phones, jack hammer at 10 m distance
95 dBA Loud crying, hand circular saw at 1 m distance
90 dBA Angle grinder outside at 1 m distance
Over a duration of 40 hours a week hearing damage is possible
85 dBA 2-stroke chain-saw at 10 m distance, loud WC flush at 1 m distance
80 dBA Very loud traffic noise of passing lorries at 7.5 m distance,
high traffic on an expressway at 25 m distance
75 dBA Passing car at 7.5 m distance, un-silenced wood shredder at 10 m distance
70 dBA Level close to a main road by day, quiet hair dryer at 1 m distance to ear
65 dBA Bad risk of heart circulation disease at constant impact is possible
60 dBA Noisy lawn mower at 10 m distance
55 dBA Low volume of radio or TV at 1 m distance, noisy vacuum cleaner at
10 m distance
50 dBA Refrigerator at 1 m distance, bird twitter outside at 15 m distance
45 dBA Noise of normal living; talking, or radio in the background
40 dBA Distraction when learning or concentration is possible
35 dBA Very quiet room fan at low speed at 1 m distance
25 dBA Sound of breathing at 1 m distance
0 dB Auditory threshold

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OK, so I had dealt with the visit from the zoning, the residential, health inspectors as well as the fire Marshall. I am allowed to have my forge. Just have to move it 15 feet away from the house. It was 10 feet, no biggie since it is on wheels. I am allowed to have a blacksmith shop and use it. But, I have to put up a shop that can withstand 90 mph winds and can hold 30 lbs/square foot of snow. So, I will be buying some steel sheeting to mount to the steel frame of my building. As well as cementing the legs into the ground. Got to buy an 8 gauge power cord until I can afford to have it hardwired into the shop. If that's what it takes. Fine. Still have to find the dang property pins, which is hard due to before the house was built in 1898, this used to be a landfill, so the metal detector goes off every 5 seconds. But, I can scrap that and use the money to buy better steel. Also, where the one pin is between us and the neighbors was a coal shed. So, I have been working on filling a five gallon bucket with it as well. Don't think the zoning inspector liked the fire Marshall and building inspector saying yes I can. Hopefully the letter will be here soon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have one pesky neighbor as well............

She lays out in the sun, wearing very little, and it has effected my forge work.

Those are the worst :)
My neighbors daughter is only a couple years older than me (23 I think) and they have a pool in their back yard.....
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Here is a tip I have learned as a local government attorney:  If you get a jerk inspector who is giving you problems ask nicely for the section of the zoning/fire/building code they are relying upon.  Then, go read it.  Many municipalities and counties have it posted on their web site.  If not, go into their office and read the hard copy. Also, read the pertinent parts of the definitions section.  Make sure the language of the Code backs up what the inspector is saying.  Too often I have seen inspectors push the limits of the Code too far or misunderstand it themselves.


Also, if the language of the Ordinance or Resolution which adopts the Code just says, "The most recent edition of the X Code" there is a legal problem because that, in many states, is an improper delegation of the municipality's or county's authority to the organizations which write and publish the various codes.  To be effective the adopting legislations should refer to a particular edition of X code.


Even if you are in the right, don't be a jerk about it.  That usually only makes the situation worse.  I have found the "more in sorrow than in anger" approach to work reasonably well.


Finally, it is always an excellent idea to talk with an attorney.  Many do not charge for an initial consultation and sometimes their hourly rate is worth it. 

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Remember that in rural areas it's more the people than the code. Our pastor ran into a situation where the inspector said "I don't care what the code says there will be no XYZ in *My* *County*!" Yes you could win a court case but lose the war so to speak.

When I had my shop built one of the pluses was that the #2 guy in the company had been the previous building inspector for southern NM. Everything met or bettered code and I think the inspections were handled by phone...

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I'm ok with that, but remember; some people you can't please.


When I had my home built, the contractor turned out to be just one. He was alsways upset. Always angry. When I first met him, after he began the work of excavation, he proceded to inform me the seven different reasons as to why he would take me to court.  I hadnd't even do anything yet to make him mad.....


1 The check would not clear

2 The check was late

3 The check would be for the incorrect amount 



If youhave ever built a home you'd know that you make payments to the contractor as they built it.



This guy swould be upset with me/the world if I came to him with my hat in my hand and looking at the ground.


Thus, don't put much hope in treating someboby like they are a god/showing respect/ timidly etc. etc.. It probably will not work. The old addage that more bees are cought with honey rather than vinegar may work, but I'm not wanting to catch bees here.


Folks who do not show respect do not deserve any. Even if they have a 150# Hay Budden for cheap.

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True, there are some people that are just plain jerks, unreasonable, or crazy but it doesn't cost you a nickel to try the nice approach.  If it doesn't work you it hasn't cost you anything and if it does work you are home and dry.  The problem is when you are a jerk, unreasonable, or crazy yourself. Unfortunately,  I've known a few smiths who fall into one or more of those categories. 


When you have someone like Thomas' inspector sometimes a cup of coffee with a County Commissioner or City Council member will help. 

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