Trustees Name New “Noise Committee”

Woodstock Village Trustees gave their approval Tuesday night to a committee that will take a look at “big picture” noise issues and consider changes and/or additions to current noise ordinances.

Trustees Chair Candace Coburn hand-picked a committee which she announced as being a combination of business and resident interests: Central Street Jeweler Nick Ferro, Woodstock Inn President and General Manager Werner Graef, South Park Street Resident Gail Stickney and Mountain Avenue Resident Gay Travers. Trish Compton will be the representative from the Village Trustees.

The “Noise Committee” idea comes out of recent heated discussions at Trustees meetings concerning variances given to the Woodstock Inn to accommodate outdoor wedding music. In particular, some neighbors asked for more notice about planned extensions of hours for noise and also for reduced decibel level output.

However, discussions led to a suggestion by Travers to broaden the scope of the conversation to more general “quality of life” issues surrounding all noise — not just wedding music. Various meeting participants, including Woodstock Early Bird, made suggestions about changing the starting or ending hours for Village noise. Others suggested that restrictions should be put on the use of high decibel mechanized equipment such as leaf-blowers and even, in some cases, the use of repetitive sprayers. Truck noise, as always, was brought up as another issue.  Trustee Compton said she would like to see a full review of ALL the Village ordinances but it was clarified Tuesday night this committee will occupy itself only with the noise ordinances.

We are glad that Coburn has taken action to form this committee, although we wonder, since she was not able to attend the previous noise-related meetings, whether she has missed the intent of the committee. Announcing last night’s committee, she mentioned that Stickney was a good choice because her home is centrally located within hearing distance of two Inns: The Woodstock Inn and The Blue Horse Inn. Coburn said that meant Stickney was in a great position to consider the issue of wedding noise. True, but this committee was supposed to address more than the one issue the Trustees dealt with this summer.

One of the most notable people in this community who has participated at every meeting, offering the most thoughtful ideas about this issue, has said them with the quietest voice. We regret that Peggy Merrill will not be on this committee. We spoke just yesterday with Merrill about her interest in the issue and the need for such a new committee to look at noise by removing it from its recent connection to weddings at  The Woodstock Inn. She said, “We need to step away from that and look more broadly…”   Woodstock Early Bird agrees.

As we have said before, people come to Vermont and to Woodstock to live and to visit for its great natural beauty. As part of the overall experience, we need to preserve what is part of that beauty in nature: pockets of natural quiet; temporary sanctuary from the chaos, din and auditory over-stimulation of urban life.  Even if just for a few hours, or for a day, we might all benefit from “dialing it down.”

We note that Trustee Chris Miller asked about a timeline for the Noise Committee’s suggestions. Coburn said there was no need for a timeline, no urgency to the matter. However, Miller said something should be done before Spring when everyone will — once again — be firing up the lawn equipment and setting up the band stages.

In the meantime, as we head into Fall, we’ll say we know from one stand-point that leaf-blowers are more efficient than raking but we’re wondering if the Village will provide us all with earplugs or ear protection just like the leaf-blower operators get to use.

Woodstock Early Bird may get her own set of earplugs so you’ll have to speak REALLY LOUDLY if you run into her on the Street!

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Corwin Sharp on August 15, 2012 at 11:14

    This is a joke, right? Kind of like when the Standard used to put out their special “April Fool’s” Issue! Thanks, Julia… needed a good laugh this morning.

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  2. Posted by Sari on August 15, 2012 at 11:19

    Seriously??? Next we’ll be installing volume controls on our cows and horses!! Let’s hope that a horse, in a horse trailer, while going through town doesn’t whinny! I’m sure the police will be lining up to issue that ticket!
    So, we want people to come to Woodstock…but god forbid if they make some noise while here.

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    • Posted by Tom on August 15, 2012 at 12:15

      There’s a flock of crows over by Dreer Spring that wake me every morning at daybreak. Will the committee investigate them?

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  3. Posted by Jennifer Morin on August 15, 2012 at 12:38

    I do believe that the issue of village noise should be examined more broadly –not lawn mowing at reasonable hours of the day but real noise issues affecting all village residents. I invite you for a walk along the once-beautiful Shurtleff Lane. Our property sits on a parcel that contains both village and town land on this road. Every morning at 7 a.m., the logging truck squeals and squeaks past our home and the chain saws start right up on clearing several lots right across the street from our house. This has been going on for 3+weeks now. The noise is so loud that I fear for our hearing in the house with all of the doors and windows closed tightly.This is punctuated by the felling of really large trees that shake our entire house (what is happening to our foundation???) which is very unsettling and scary. Add to that the loud drone and hum of a tree-pulling vehicle which hauls the downed trees to the logging truck. All of this noise goes on for Hours and hours a day and is ovewhelming to the extreme. I am forcing my kids to stay inside during this lovely summer because it is too loud for them to play outside. How terrible is that? This level of noise really puts everything else (dogs barking, leaf blowers, music from a wedding, fireworks) into perspective and yet we are in the village, too. We did not receive any advance notice of this work to be done and suspect we might have months and years of noise ahead of us as these lots are “developed”. We are a homeschooling family and school in the mornings and into the early afternoon, leaving afternoons open for outside activities. I am in tears and despair as I ponder how I will begin teaching my children in a few short weeks. The school room that we have so lovingly created over the past year and a half overlooks Shurtleff Lane. We do not have a big home and can not just relocate our school room. I forgot to mention that my husband works from home. Hard to concentrate on important conference call with your ears ringing and the house shaking. I don’t mean to diminish the noise that others in the village are experiencing but just to reinforce the notion of examining all of those village noises which truly affect the quality of life full-time residents, part-time residents and visitors alike. I think the “noise committee” has far too narrow of a scope to encompass the noise issues affecting the entire village.

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    • We think that what you are talking about is exactly what should be addressed by such a committee. We hope they will be learn of your plight for this major reason: Your story is about the human costs of un-planned or under-regulated development.

      What is happening in your neighborhood is the creation of a new home development which means more people, more traffic, more lawn care and more constant noise. Right now, as you explain, the noise issues you are experiencing are HUGE and may diminish soon, although that doesn’t help now.

      The point of such a committee should not be one of issuing tickets and micro-managing the crow noises and such, but rather a bolder, larger attempt of developing a “mission statement” about Woodstock Village’s approach to quality of life with regards to noise.

      WEB

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  4. Did I miss something or is there no one from the High St / Cross Street area on the committee? Not a busness.

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