Sun Prairie Family's Battle for Peace: The Ongoing Struggle Against Noise Pollution

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In a quiet corner of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, a battle has been raging for nearly two years. It all began with the promise of a new development next door to the Thomas family home, which had been standing since the 1800s. This development was set to bring back Glass Nickel Pizza, a local business destroyed in a devastating 2018 explosion. The Thomases were initially thrilled to witness this revitalization of their community, but little did they know that it would turn into a nightmare that would shatter their peace and tranquility.

The Unwelcome Noise

For Kayla and Jeff Thomas, their picturesque home quickly turned into a place of discomfort and stress. The source of their distress? A relentless and incessant noise, akin to having a lawnmower running non-stop right outside their window. The culprit responsible for this disturbance was an industrial HVAC unit installed for the Glass Nickel Pizza restaurant.

The original plans had shown two smaller air conditioning units, but what they ended up with was a much larger and louder unit. This noisy contraption was situated just a few feet from their home, and it ran day and night, making it nearly impossible for the Thomases to find any reprieve.

Seeking Resolution

The Thomases took the appropriate steps to address the issue. They began by reaching out to the owner of Glass Nickel, local officials, and even their aldermen. Meetings were arranged, apologies were made, and promises of a resolution were given. However, despite the promises, the noise persisted, and it seemed that every path they took led to dead ends.

Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

Frustrated and desperate for a solution, the Thomases embarked on their own research journey. What they discovered was startling: the HVAC unit was not supposed to be where it was placed. Plans clearly indicated that it was meant to be on the roof, not right next to their property line. Even more surprising was the revelation that their home was zoned as commercial, despite its century-long history as a residential property.

Legal Loopholes

The zoning technicality added an extra layer of complexity to their predicament. According to city code, it was perfectly legal to place the HVAC unit on the property line and allow it to generate up to 70 decibels of noise. This threshold exceeded the standard residential sound limit of around 60 decibels, but the Thomases’ measurements consistently registered much higher.

City’s Response

City officials, citing unclear language in the ordinance regarding noise measurement, conducted their own tests and found the noise levels to be around the legal limit. This discrepancy between the Thomases’ readings and the city’s measurements further complicated their quest for relief.

The Lawsuit

As their frustration grew and their quality of life continued to deteriorate, the Thomases felt that they had no other choice but to file a lawsuit. Their objective remains simple: to restore peace to their home, whether that involves relocating the HVAC unit or erecting a noise barrier. Their hope is that their struggle will lead to changes in how the city handles similar situations in the future.


The Thomas family’s ongoing battle against noise pollution serves as a stark reminder of the challenges homeowners can face when development projects clash with long-established residential areas. Their determination to seek justice not only for themselves but also for the potential future victims of similar circumstances is commendable. As their lawsuit unfolds, it sheds light on the importance of transparent zoning regulations and the need for effective solutions to mitigate the adverse impacts of development on residential communities.

Author: LawtonCates

At LawtonCates, we take fighting for accident victims very seriously. It’s how we’ve always done it for six-plus decades as a reputable South Central Wisconsin law practice. Our lawyers are passionate about helping people get back on their feet because we know their health, livelihood, and future are at stake.