The bell chimes every hour from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. It also rings the Angelus, the Roman Catholic call to prayer, at 7 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. Several neighbors complained the 18 chimes of the Angelus was disrupting their "quality of life."
Officials at St. John's reacted with joy when they heard of Kenney's proposal.
"That's absolutely wonderful!" said Rosemary Swider, the business manager. "This will ease the minds of people at churches all around us. They've all been wondering, 'Are we going to be next?' "
Swider said television news crews and a morning show had appeared at the church Thursday after The Inquirer reported on the controversy. She said St. John's also had received numerous calls of support from the public.
Kenney said his legislation would apply to all religions and cover the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, which is recited five times a day from mosques.
The noise code, last amended in 2006, makes exemptions for trains, aircraft, and licensed fireworks displays. It also allows for animal sounds from zoos, circuses, and laboratories. The only mention of houses of worship is to protect them from outside noise that would interfere with services.
The Air Services Management division of the Health Department enforces the ordinance. Director Thomas Huynh said Wednesday that the agency had fined churches in the past and, on rare occasions, had pressed charges.
Councilman Curtis Jones represents Manayunk. His spokesman Al Shivey said five or six people had complained to the city about St. John's 104-year-old bell since February. That was when the bell began to ring again after a broken sprocket silenced it in 2007.
"Whoever moves to this area knows there's a church and a church bell. If you don't like the sound of a church bell," Shivey said, "you don't move into the area."
Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796