Mrs. Green's market slow to provide quiet neighborhood

Matthew and Karen Stockli were patient neighbors as Mrs. Green’s Natural Market finished construction on its Gateway Shopping Center location. The couple and their neighbors, who live in the Fawn Ridge townhouses directly behind the store, genially accepted early-morning deliveries and dust-covered houses as the company drilled holes behind its Wilton location.

Now, more than two months since the store opened for business, the construction is over, but the noise is not.

A collection of 12 high-powered refrigeration units point directly at the home of the Stocklis, at 63 Fawn Ridge, and at the home of Barbara Russell, at 62 Fawn Ridge, just over the Norwalk line. Even neighbors relaxing at the community’s pool over the summer, the residents said, were treated to the mechanical noise “24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

As was verified by Town Planner Bob Nerney, the company is within its noise requirements under Connecticut and Wilton zoning ordinances, and has taken steps to dampen the sound. One of these steps, the planner said, was the installation of a wood fence lined with noise control paneling around the refrigeration units.

Early in September, the residents said, a vice president from Mrs. Green’s visited the townhouses and listened to the noise for himself. He assured the neighbors he would do everything in his power to correct the problem. Mr. Stockli said earlier this week they’ve yet to hear anything in response from the company. “The only quiet I have heard is from Mrs. Green’s management. Same noise,” he said.

A representative of Mrs. Green’s, Lexis Termini, said by phone on Wednesday the company is dedicated to being a good neighbor, and a good member of the Wilton community.

“Even though we have always been under sound requirements of the town,” she said, “we decided to be a good neighbor with the construction of a wooden fence to dampen the noise. We also put in some sound reduction. That 10-foot wooden enclosure was installed at our own expense.”

However, a Bulletin reporter who visited the Stockli home heard the noise still coming from the refrigeration units after the wooden fences had been installed. As one moves from the ground level to the third floor, where the bedrooms are, the sound grows louder. It is not hard to see why someone would find sleeping difficult when confronted with the level of noise on the top floor.

The cost of increased sound reduction, Ms. Termini said, has restricted the company’s ability to further correct the high levels of noise.

“A third party was hired, and the engineer received a couple of quotes. Basically, this would involve lining the inside of the wooden fence enclosure with a special paneling, and lining the wall of the building,” she said. “Having to deal with rainwater leaders, lighting, and utility conduits complicates the installation of the wall-mounted absorption panels. Our only option is to spend another $100,000 to mitigate the sound.”

Since receiving two quotes from sound mitigation companies earlier this month, Ms. Termini said, the company has continued to search for a less costly option.

“It is more than sad that we have a disgruntled neighbor,” Ms. Termini said. “But it’s difficult to take on that large of an expense when we’ve done everything we can [to be within legal standards], and the building is on a commercial property line. We are hoping to find a solution somewhere around the $5,000 to $10,000 range. We will continue to look outside that area for a less expensive solution.”

Ms. Russell said she has been forced to abandon her third-floor bedroom, as the noise prevents her from sleeping. She now sleeps in a room on the other side of her townhouse.

Even her friends at the senior center, she said, have noticed her lack of rest. The homeowner had to leave her weekly, and well-loved, game of bridge early a few weeks ago because she couldn’t stay awake.

“The ladies said I looked tired. I said to them, ‘I love this game, but I am so tired I just cannot stay.’ They had to call me an hour later just to make sure I got home OK.

“When my grandchildren came to visit a few weeks ago,” Ms. Russell continued, “I woke up in the morning to find my granddaughter sitting on the couch in the living room reading a book. I asked her, ‘Why are you already awake?’ She told me, ‘Grandma, your house is too noisy.’ And that is coming from the innocence of a child.”

Since the last week of August, the Stocklis and Ms. Russell have grown increasingly frustrated as the noise is compounded by early-morning deliveries and idling trucks. Though Mrs. Green’s management told the residents no deliveries took place at the store before 8 a.m., Mr. Stockli has kept a running count of delivery trucks that arrive before that designated time, including a KLB food delivery truck he said arrived at 4:08 a.m. on Sept. 24.

“No one is there [at 4 a.m. to receive the parcels] so they just left an hour later,” he said.

The neighbors said they have no problem with the Mrs. Green’s store, but wish the company would take steps to alleviate the noise.

“We don’t want them to close down,” Mr. Stockli said. “We’re just asking them to respond to our concerns as neighbors. During business hours, I completely understand the noise, but 24 hours a day, seven days a week?”