Town officials say they’re still working on drafting a noise ordinance, but admit they’d hoped the neighborhood dispute that brought the issue to the fore this summer would have resolved itself by now.
At the Town Board’s Oct. 1 meeting, Cherry Ln. resident Warren Ferine complained his neighbor is making “amplified noise” (referring to a garage band) and nobody, including the police, can do anything about it. He asked about the status of the noise ordinance, which was the subject of a public hearing several months ago but has not been discussed since.
“Right now it is sitting,” said Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel. “We have not scheduled any more public hearings. To be perfectly honest with you, really we were hoping this situation would solve itself.”
But that’s not happening anytime soon, said a frustrated Ferine.
“The people don’t want to resolve it,” he said. “They could resolve it. They’re amplifying noise for no reason. It doesn’t have to be amplified. I can’t sit in my house and even watch TV or talk on the phone on the nights that that this noise is being amplified,” he explained. “What am I supposed to do in the meantime while the board is just thinking about how it’s going to go away?”
Helsmoortel told Ferine his comments would be taken into consideration.
“Yeah, but when are we going to do something about this?” he asked. “This has been going on for over a year and a half now. I was dealing with the old supervisor, the police. Nobody seems to be able to do anything at all. We’ve had people go to the moon and come back and we can’t get a noise ordinance in Saugerties.”
Helsmoortel explained that if the Town Board could pass a law that applied to the situation in his neighborhood, they’d do it immediately, but it’s not that simple.
“It’s like spot zoning,” he said. “You can’t put it in a particular place. It has to concern the whole town, which definitely creates a lot of potential problems. But we will address it one way or the other.”
Ferine expressed disappointment over the need for a law.
“I wish we didn’t need a noise ordinance. We shouldn’t. But some people have no respect for other people and just don’t care. It’s a real tragedy and we have to live with it every day.”
Deputy Supervisor Fred Costello said one complication for a town-wide ordinance is varying population density.
“In your neighborhood, the houses are close together, the need for the law is clear and the decibel level may be appropriate at the proposed level,” said Costello. “Within other areas where it’s less dense, does just the fact that the lot sizes are larger make the decibel level appropriate or does there need to be special consideration for that?”
“So I don’t want you to leave with the idea that we had the hearing and we haven’t considered it again. There were some constructive comments made that evening and we have kicked them around and tried to debate them and we’ll bring those up to the consultants to try to make the law as good a fit as we possibly can on the first go-around.”
The town is working off the county’s recommended decibel levels of 72 decibels during the day and 66 decibels at night. While people have complained common activities such as children playing would exceed these levels, measurements for noise ordinance enforcement are usually taken at the property line, not directly at the source.
Costello said he’s dealt with noise issues ever since he’s been on the board, particularly in the spring, when windows open and outdoor entertainment commences, and new neighbors encounter one another.
Police Chief Joe Sinagra believes one reason the town needs to consider a noise ordinance for the first time in its history is the changing culture of neighborliness. Issues that would have been resolved privately with compromise in the past now become intractable legal issues that demand official action.