New Paltz considers noise ordinance

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New Paltz Village village trustees are going to try, as have many of their predecessors, to improve upon the local noise ordinance. An effort to do so in 2010 was thwarted when then-trustee Brian Kimbiz got college students worked up over what he felt were disparities that targeted musicians and others who were most active after dark. In the end, the only result was the erecting of signs that encourage people to be respectful of their neighbors.

Trustee Tom Rocco has been researching such laws in other municipalities, and has found two ways forward: a law based on decibels, or one that uses a “reasonable person standard” of what’s noisy. Decibel readings require police officers have the necessary equipment, and that narrow definition of noise can make enforcement difficult in any case. Rocco said he favors a law like the one on the books in the Village of Geneseo, which also hosts a SUNY college. It uses that reasonableness standard.

Rocco took this project upon himself because planning board members have expressed that the current law doesn’t leave much room for ensuring a non-noisy atmosphere around any big project approved, such as Zero Place. The Zero Place proposal is for mixed-use building to be constructed on the empty lot at the corner of Mulberry and North Chestnut streets. It would include 48 apartments over a floor of retail space; the entire structure is intended to be net-zero in regard to energy usage, hence the name.

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Noise impacts have been raised throughout the application process for that project.

His fellow trustees encouraged him to also check with the chief of the town’s police force. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” said Deputy Mayor Rotzler.

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