Cooperstown Noise Law Has An 88-Decibel Limit

Cooperstown Noise Law

Has An 88-Decibel Limit

With iPhone App, Citizens Could ID Violators

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – The sounds of silence.  That’s probably more than even the 80 signators of last year’s anti-noise petition expect.

But neighbors in and around the downtown will at least be able to expect sounds under 88 decibels if Chapter 172 of the Village of Cooperstown code, labeled simply “Noise,” survives a second public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, May 28, and it voted into law.

Action was delayed from last month’s Village Board meeting after objections were heard to the 100 decibel level.

The lower 88 decibels is the level that OSHA (the federal Occupation Safety & Health Administration) and its New York counterpart found an individual can listen to for four hours before suffering hearing loss, said Trustee Cindy Falk.

That about the sound a food processor or garbage disposal makes, she said.

“We were very cognizant of the medical component of this, of the health component of this, she said.

The idea of a noise ordinance arose last year when Veronica Gil Seaver, who lives in the vicinity of Main and Chestnut, began circulating a petition that quickly obtained signatures, not just from Main Street residents by some on Pine Boulevard, said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.

Loud music used to be a rarity downtown, but in recent years the Hardball Café at 99 Main began booking rock music in the summers, and Mel’s at 22 and the Cooperstown Beverage Exchange have been doing to year-‘round.

“The village is not trying to regulate anything inside a building, where it can be as loud as you and your customers way,” the mayor emphasized.  “It’s when you get outside the building and onto an adjoining property that you get regulations.”

The village already had a noise ordinance, but it had no objective ways to measure the noise, and that troubled the mayor and others.  “What’s loud for me may not be loud for you,” she said. “Sound is a very subjective thing.”
The Village Board assigned Zoning Enforcement Office Jane Gentile to research the issue.  She examined numerous zoning codes and came up with a three tier-system contained in the proposed law.

At the first level, music is allowed without a permit or a variance, as long as decibel levels and time limits are met, said Falk.

At the second level, “if you need to go later or you need to go louder,” then you can apply for a permit to do that up to a certain period,” she added.

If that still doesn’t work, you can apply for a variance.

“For each level, there’s a greater review process that’s associated with it,” the trustee said.

“Some resident had suggested no amplification be allowed in the village.  That was a little beyond where we thought we should go.”

As to time limits, in one past drafts music was allowed until 11:30 p.m.  As it stands, 10 would be the normal cutoff, but permits may be sought to extend that to 11.

At the first level, music is allowed without a permit or a variance, as long as decibel levels and time limits are met.

At the second level, “if you need to go later or you need to go louder,” then you can apply for a permit to do that up to a certain period,” Falk said.

If that still doesn’t work, you can apply for a variance.

“For each level, there’s a greater review process that’s associated with it,” she said.

“Some resident had suggested no amplification be allowed in the village.  That was a little beyond where we thought we should go.”

In one past draft, music was allowed until 11:30 p.m.  As it stands, 10 would be the normal cutoff, but permits may be sought to extend that to 11.

At the first level, music is allowed without a permit or a variance, as long as decibel levels and time limits are met.

At the second level, “if you need to go later or you need to go louder,” then you can apply for a permit to do that up to a certain period,” Falk said.

If that still doesn’t work, you can apply for a variance.

“For each level, there’s a greater review process that’s associated with it,” she said.

“Some resident had suggested no amplification be allowed in the village.  That was a little beyond where we thought we should go.”

In one past draft, music was allowed until 11:30 p.m.  As it stands, 10 would be the normal cutoff, but permits may be sought to extend that to 11.

Both Tillapaugh and Falk expressed satisfaction of where things now stand, and pointed out that anybody with an iPhone can check a decibel level easily.

That person can then call Village Police and complain if the level is too high, and the village is planning to buy a more sensitive machine whose readings could be actionable.

Meanwhile, the law may be reviewed on the Village of Cooperstown web site, and printed copies are available in the Village Administrator’s Office at 22 Main.

Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of experimenting with iPhones among trustees.

She reported chiding her husband the other night after his voice rose to 66 decibels at the dinner table.

 

 


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