The Putnam Valley Town Board will be reaching out to the community for input on how to effectively craft a proper noise ordinance after being unable to reach a consensus for nearly five months.
Following a third public hearing last month where residents on opposing sides once again debunked the towns latest revision of the law, officials agreed to move forward with forming a committee with community members from each district. The committee would group those with varying opinions on the topic.
“I don’t really feel like giving up is the way to go,” Councilman Ralph Smith said during the May 5 Pre-Work Session meeting. “I certainly think a group of people from the community both for, against and indifferent could continue to improve what’s been done so far.”
While Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio was discouraged that the board couldn’t approve a new law, officials ultimately agreed that the latest proposal – which was also the towns third revision of the law – was unenforceable and either had too many limitations or loose ends.
Officials have been striving to amend the towns noise code for several months after receiving numerous 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.
Despite efforts made by the Town Board, residents have continuously panned each revision officials have presented to the public. Residents chastised the original proposal for being too strict, pressing it would violate their rights and limit their actions.
The second proposal was condemned for not being strict enough, with residents stating that the revision was open to interpretation and would have allowed people to continue to disrupt their neighbors. The third revision was also ill-received with some arguing the decibel limit was too high and restrictive while others felt the law wasn’t strong enough to enforce.
The one element residents did agree on last month was that the board needed to revisit the proposal to make additional changes.
The latest 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.
Officials agreed changes need to be made to the party exemptions, explaining it shouldn’t be limited to only a birthday party and holiday gathering. Additionally, some board members took issue with parties being allowed to start as early as 8 a.m. on any given day.
Robert Lusardi, attorney to the Zoning and Planning Boards who penned the first draft of the noise proposal, agreed forming a commission for residents to brainstorm their own solution would be best. Lusardi added he would aid the commission once it’s formed.
Oliverio selected Smith, who is the representative of Lake Peekskill, to oversee the committee’s creation.
“My time here is limited,” Oliverio said. “I have less than seven months left on the board and I would have liked to have seen this accomplished, but I agree, there’s too many loose ends even with the third revisions but maybe getting the publics input is the way to go.”