Saugerties town officials are looking into events-specific legislation as a means of tackling noise issues after neighbors of a property at 996 Route 212 lodged complaints about loud music late into the night last month. Officials said regulations specifically geared toward events could work in a community that has previously bristled at a municipal noise ordinance.
“I don’t foresee the board being willing to take on a noise ordinance,” said Supervisor Fred Costello during a Town Board meeting held on Wednesday, August 16. “I think there’s definitely a need, but we don’t believe that the community is ready to respond as a whole to accepting one at this time. So we are working on some event space legislation and hopefully that will expand the toolbox of the police department in a meaningful way.”
The 102-acre property is owned by Matthew Burton and Elena Berkowitz, who did not respond to requests for comment. Among the events that take place on the property is Under Over Fest, most recently held on Saturday, July 22, with tickets sold through Eventbrite for up to $250, and featuring folk, rock and bluegrass bands in the daytime and house and electronic dance music (EDM) into the evening.
But neighbors have complained about other parties and events they said have been held there as well. Adam Kane said that while the Under Over Fest on July 22 ended at around 10:30 p.m., on consecutive weekend nights in early August the property hosted two events that went later.
“The August 4th one also ended late evening, maybe around 10 or 11 o’clock at night,” Kane said. “The August 5th one went until 2:30 in the morning.”
Kane said a neighbor who lives a half mile from the property was unable to sleep because the music was too loud. Richard Azoff and his wife live even closer.
“We’re probably a quarter of a mile away from the venue and we’re in our bedroom with the windows closed and you can feel the booming in the bed,” Azoff said. “So to say that the board doesn’t have the stomach or the will to pass noise ordinance, it’s really not acceptable if it allows venues like this to proceed and just do whatever they want. I don’t know how you would all feel if you were living next to or across the street from this kind of a venue and you were up until 2:30 in the morning.”
Kane said he believed the police were called numerous times, visiting the property six times on the night of August 5.
“The common answer was, because we don’t have a noise ordinance, there wasn’t anything that could be done,” he said. “They would make visits and that’s all that could happen.”
In a late-August interview, Costello said the Under Over events were symbolic of a larger issue in Saugerties, one he hoped the town board would find a way to legally address.
“The folks use it as a second home and as an event space, but without some restrictions, that particular use is violating other people’s quality of life,” Costello said. “We heard from those neighbors because of a recent event, but this is not a problem unique to that area.”
Costello said the area had seen other properties rent space for non-traditional weddings or other events in recent years.
“There’s quite a bit of disruption to the quality of life throughout the town,” he said. “The event legislation that we’re working on is an attempt to minimize that. Not to stop it, it has a place. But to minimize it.”
Costello also elaborated on municipal efforts at passing a noise ordinance, not unlike an idea posited by Azoff at the August town board meeting that would give teeth to noise complaints after 10 p.m.
“In my time of service we’ve been through three efforts to try to establish a noise regulation, all unsuccessful,” Costello said, though he added that he’d never say never. “I don’t think the community has erased that concept yet, and someday we will pass one. But for now, we’re absent that type of regulation.”
In the meantime, town officials hope getting more granular with events-specific noise regulations could help neighbors like Azoff and Kane.
“We’re trying to address noise generating activities and acknowledge that they could be impactful to neighbors,” Costello said.
The next meeting of the Saugerties Town Board is scheduled for Wednesday, September 6.