Sunset Hills church getting new electronic bell system after board approval

New bell system is a replacement of old one

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By Lucas Irizary, Staff Reporter

In 2009, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection lost its electronic bell system after 48 years of use. Reverend Nicholas Schram said since the system fell into disrepair, the congregation has been discussing ways to bring it back. 

“The congregation has shown interest in restoring this on Good Friday during holy week this year,” Schram said at the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen meeting July 13. 

Schram applied for an Amended Conditional Use Permit to reinstall the Carillon Bell system at the church, located at 9907 Sappington Rd., and the Sunset Hills Planning and Zoning Committee unanimously recommended the plan for approval June 2. Schram said the system is similar to the one St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church installed in 2016.

The petitioner’s call for a suspension of rules for a second reading failed by a 2-6 vote July 13, with Wong and Ward 3 Alderman Cathy Friedmann voting no. 

“I think this will be better if we have more time to look at the details,” Ward 2 Alderman Casey Wong said.

The permit saw a second reading at the board’s Aug. 10 meeting and passed unanimously.

Wong had concerns the decibel level of the system denoted in the plans were higher than the noise ordinances allow. The outdoor speakers, which are planned to face in four directions on the roof of the church, can be set anywhere from 100 to 3,700 decibels, depending on the electricity limits of the building. For comparison, tornado sirens are around 130 decibels. Sunset Hills code does not specifically mention any decibel limits for loud noises.

“That’s really loud and this church is surrounded by residential (areas). What assurances do we have that that’s not going to be unduly loud and annoying for the residents?” Wong said. “Are we just going to fall back on our noise standard?”

Bryson Baker, city engineer, said normal protocol would allow the sound system to be installed and the city would measure the decibel levels. 

“Even though it says 123 decibels, you don’t really know what it’s going to be until you’re out in the field and it’s in place,” Baker said. 

Schram said the church would sound the bells at 8:30 and 11 every Sunday morning, and for funerals and weddings between 10 and 11 a.m. when applicable.