Let’s Have A Blast! Party On! Noise Committee Makes Recommendations

The Village Trustees “Noise Committee” made its recommendations to the full board last night  after one 1.5 hr meeting. The group, consisting of Trustee Representative Trish Compton, Woodstock Resident Gail Stickney, Woodstock Inn CEO Werner Graef and Woodstock Businessman Nick Ferro said they supported a change to weekend hours that noise must cease — moving the time later from 10pm to 11pm.  That change would accommodate the needs of the Woodstock Inn and Resort when selling its wedding packages, particularly in the summer.

The group also decided there was no reason to change any hours for operation of motorized equipment — for the time being.

While Compton reported the group did make an attempt to invite public participation at a second meeting scheduled for a weekday morning, no one showed up for the meeting nor wrote in to express their views.

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The Village Trustees, as a group, last night seemed to agree with the Noise Committee’s findings and were particularly set to vote through the new 11pm weekend extension of “noise” hours. However, Trustees Bob Pear and Chris Miller agreed there are still some issues regarding outdoor bands and permitting that should be looked at before a vote on making changes to the ordinance.  So, the Trustees did not actually vote through the change and will hold it to their January meeting.

 

The Woodstock Inn’s CEO Werner Graef appealed to the group to make a decision, any decision, even if it meant keeping the current 1opm hour and granting the Inn variances. He said he needed to know how to move forward with his sales staff in working on new business for the coming Spring/Summer season.

The noise committee was created as a result of very well-attended meetings by Village residents last summer in which some asked for a comprehensive review of noise ordinances – not just Woodstock Inn weddings — and for a specific look at high-decibel noise-making lawn and garden machinery.

(It should be noted that neither Gail Stickney nor Nick Ferro attended those meetings to hear various residents’ point of view and were randomly selected to be on the Committee by Trustee Chair Candace Coburn. Village resident Gay Travers was asked to be on the Committee but apparently declined as it appeared the business-heavy make-up of the group would naturally make “moot” a resident’s point-of-view.

You will probably hear or read that Woodstock Early Bird vehemently expressed her thoughts last night that the Committee did NOT do its job and is not listening to those, including WEB, who think — at the least — consideration should be given to those who wish that operators of particularly loud equipment not begin their operations until later in the day — particularly on weekends.

Both Committee Chair Compton and Trustee Chair Coburn took issue with WEB’s assessment, saying they had done their job and done their best to seek participation.  (While Compton and Coburn said they would consider having another noise meeting, WEB agrees they are correct in the reality that if no one shows up or expresses interest in the issue there is only so much they can do.)

Trustee Eric Nesbitt expressed his view that he listens to noisy trucks all the time from his residence and that’s just part of living in the Village and that WEB and others should essentially accept regular noise as part of life here.

Again, the response from Woodstock Early Bird was  the “suck it up” attitude from Trustees or fellow residents to anyone who asks for some tranquility is neither a civil, neighborly nor a productive attitude.  Woodstock Early Bird asked for time to read from Section 5301 of Noise Control which reads as follows as to what Village Trustees are supposed to be “charged” with protecting:

In order to protect the balance of vitality in our village and to preserve the peace and promote civility and the prevent hearing loss, sleep loss and a general reduction in quality of life, the Village of Woodstock will protect the public tranquility. 

For those of you who would like to read exactly what the noise committee found, here is their original “Report to Trustees”:

The task force consisted of Gail Stickney, Nick Ferro, Werner Graef and Patricia Compton, Trustee. It met on October 23 at the Town Hall and discussed the charge, review of the ordinance, reasons for the appointment of the group and possible changes.

The work was accomplished within 1-1/2 hour meeting; however, it was decided to offer the public an opportunity to review the recommendation. A meeting was scheduled for November 5 at 8:30, the public was notified with an announcement in the paper, and the committee was in attendance at the appointed time and place.

The meeting was called to order, we waited approximately 20 minutes, and since no citizens appeared, the meeting was adjourned. Following is the recommendation of the task force to the Trustees:

The recommendation from the Ad Hoc Task Force in regard to Title 5, Chapter 3 relating to noise in the Village is to change the time limit from 10pm to 11pm on the weekends with 10pm on weekdays, with no variances allowed.

It is the opinion of the task force that it would be a hardship to restrict loud machinery noises because people have no choice of timing in order to accomplish these tasks. Therefore there will be no change in the current ordinance relating to use of machinery.

Respectfully submitted,

Gail Stickney, Village Resident

Nick Ferro, Village business and resident

Werner Graef, CEO of the Woodstock Resort

Patricia Compton, Trustee and Village Resident

 

Wrapping up the discussion, Trustee Chris Miller said perhaps the issue of louder machinery and the technical details of decibel levels need to be explored further in an effort to address specific noise issues. However, Miller said, “It will get technical real fast…”  But Werner Graef countered he believes the community is split so there isn’t much point in trying to make changes — he noted that “defining” noise is very difficult.

Woodstock Early Bird again spoke her mind that if a lawn equipment or machinery operator needs to wear “ear protection” that would be an indication of a need for curtailed noise for those who meander about the Village without earplugs — or try to sleep in or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

We conceded/concede  we may be in the minority on this issue and perhaps only activistTrustee Bob Pear and WEB care about it. We doubt it, but we are constantly surprised at learning what our evolving community apparently thinks.

It’s hard to know as sometimes we can’t find a pulse.

 

 

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Clay Gillette on December 12, 2012 at 17:29

    What were the findings of the Committee concerning the consequences of the current 10 p.m.. limit for the loss of business? What evidence were those findings based on? What testimony was taken? Decisions that reflect balancing tranquility vs. financial needs must be based on factual determinations rather than the opinions of those on the Committee. I’d appreciate knowing what facts the Committee took into consideration and it would be nice if the Trustees did the same.

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  2. Posted by Pat Crocker on December 12, 2012 at 21:23

    Holding a meeting mid-week in the morning is a sure fire way to have no one in attendance. But maybe that was the desired outcome given the “balance” of interests on the committee and the board of trustees. More important the demeanor of key members of the board (observed on CATV) would discourage any but the most determined individuals from trying to present an alternative view. It’s very effective in squelching dissent and participation in public debate.

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  3. Posted by Gretchen Pear on December 13, 2012 at 08:59

    …No public input??? I went to three meetings regarding noise that the trustees held prior to the establishment of the “noise committee” and spoke requesting the time not be changed to 11PM.. I also spoke at length to Nick Ferro after he was appointed to the committee about my concerns and desire to keep the ordinance as it is …….doesn’t that count as public input ?…. how many meetings does one have to attend before their opinion counts?To date I am not aware of any clamoring from the residents of our community to lengthen the time from 10 PM to 11PM especially since variances are given when necessary for special events. So who was this committee serving?…the general public or special interests.???…No public input?..Most people hearing about a meeting on noise would assume the committee was looking at ways to decrease noise in the community ,not increase it.

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  4. Posted by adele fader on December 13, 2012 at 19:48

    Loyal longtime visitor to the village and I applaud efforts to limit the use of leaf-blowers. The noise generated far outweighs the benefits of the devices. Everyone in earshot suffers, whereas a worker with a broom or rake could be nearly as effective without the consequences of disturbing everyone’s tranquility.

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