GovernmentThe Putnam Examiner

Oliverio Says Proposed Noise Ordinance Has Putnam Valley in a ‘Sticky Wicket’ 

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Putnam Valley Supervisor Sam Oliverio
Putnam Valley Supervisor Sam Oliverio suggested the Town Board trash the latest noise proposal if community members criticize it for a third time at the Apr. 21 public hearing.

Another public hearing has been set for the third revision the Putnam Valley Town Board has made to its proposed noise ordinance, but officials say the proposal will be thrown out for good if the community rebukes it.

Putnam Valley officials reviewed the latest revision to the noise ordinance last week after members of the community condemned the previous version last month for not being strict enough. Residents had stated the second version was open to interpretation and would have allowed people to continue to disrupt their neighbors.

However, the second revision came after residents chastised the original proposal for being too strict, arguing it would violate their rights and limit their actions.

While only slight tweaks were made to the latest proposal, officials reluctantly agreed to schedule it for a third public hearing despite some apprehension from board members that the law is still not stringent enough. Councilwoman Jacqueline Annabi said the proposal is not satisfactory and is placing a “band aid on a broken arm.”

“We still have a lot of loopholes in this thing,” Annabi said at the Apr. 7 pre-work session meeting, adding how the proposal is still unenforceable. “This is still not helping the residents who are complaining.”

Officials have been striving to amend the towns noise code after receiving several complaints last year of neighbors being disruptive and blasting music for hours at a time. The  current noise law doesn’t address daytime sound and fails to place a penalty on those who violate the code.

Furthermore, the code doesn’t have a decibel limit, which has restricted law enforcement officers and deputies from effectively enforcing the law.

The new proposal states that between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., prolonged noise levels of 70 decibels or more on any given day would be prohibited. The ordinance would apply to revving cars, loud music, artificially amplified voices, or artificially amplified sound producing devices.

Additionally, noise levels exceeding 60 decibels between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. would be prohibited.

While the remainder of the noise ordinance would remain intact, daytime exemptions to the law would include ongoing construction, yard maintenance, yard and construction mechanisms and tools, air conditioners, generators, snow-blowers, hand tools, chain saws, land and or watercraft that are not stationary, and one-day celebratory events, such as birthday parties and holiday gatherings.

Evening exemptions would consist of air conditioners, generators, all moving land vehicles, tools needed during a weather or national emergency, and one-day celebratory events, including birthday parties and federal holiday parties.

For birthday parties and/or holiday parties, the noise restrictions would be imposed at 8 p.m., the proposal states.

The municipality and utilities would also be excused from all restrictions if it involves necessary maintenance, repairs, and any emergency response during a weather event or national emergency.  

Violators would be subject to a fine of up to $500 for each offense, imprisonment of up to 15 days, or both. The town would also be authorized to seek injunctive relief to prevent the continued violation.

Board members expressed concern that the proposal limits gatherings to only birthday parties and holiday parties and by making both an exception, the law still allows residents to be disruptive on any given day until 8 p.m.

Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio once again defended the latest proposal, stating that it is meant to appease the entire community – largely those who took offense to the original plan – and allow residents to proceed with their everyday life while adhering to the towns efforts to control daytime noise. He also indicated he’s “drained” by the topic at this point.

Oliverio added that the board will likely never reach a “happy medium” with the proposal, noting that he only has limited time left on the board before his term expires. Oliverio is not running for re-election in November.

“I’ve got eight months left and I thought that we could settle it but whatever the board wishes to do I defer to you, but the complaints are going to continue as the weather warms up and what’s going to be our response to that,” Oliverio said. “It’s a sticky wicket and at this point I’m drained of it. I’d like something to go forward but my presence on this board is limited.”

Officials agreed to move the proposal to a third public hearing, stating that despite the issues it’s better than what’s currently in the code. Oliverio acknowledged that residents will likely raise concern with the proposal during the Apr. 21 public hearing but said that not everything can be covered in a law.

“If it hits that stone wall like we have at the last two public hearings, at that point in time we put it away,” Oliverio said. “We’ll leave it up to the public. We’ve been listening to them, and just like the other two we trashed them, and we’ll trash this one.”

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