Noise ordinance issue gets hearing
The Board of Selectmen won't turn a deaf ear to noise complaints. After several discussions weighing the idea of a noise ordinance in town, the selectmen decided to schedule a public informational meeting about the issue tentatively in late September.
"The objective is to listen," said First Selectman Bill Brennan, at the Board of Selectmen's meeting on Monday, Aug. 6. "We are basically saying that we are considering a noise ordinance. Is it necessary? Have you had issues with noise?"
Mr. Brennan said the town has received five noise complaints since October 2011. He said he has also asked Wilton's police department to provide input about the number of complaints they have received.
Selectman Jim Saxe, who is serving as the panel's liaison on the issue, gave a report Monday night, saying noise ordinances typically apply at night, when residents are sleeping. "Noise ordinances are usually in effect before 7 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on weekdays" and later on weekends, Mr. Saxe said.
His study showed that some neighboring towns have noise ordinances, including New Canaan, Ridgefield and Norwalk. "Some do not, such as Darien, Easton and Westport," he said.
Acceptable noise levels are typically 55 decibels during the day and 45 at night, he said. "For example, a garbage truck is 100 decibels, while a jet engine is 140."
Mr. Saxe said a typical fine for a noise ordinance violation is $60 to $100.
Mr. Brennan said he would like to investigate whether residents receive a warning before a fine.
In a recent interview with The Bulletin, Capt. John Lynch of the Wilton Police Department said noise complaints are "sporadic" and come mostly in the warm weather months.
"They are more prevalent in the summer," he said. "We get most noise complaints later at night, and they are usually about a party or an event with loud music."
Capt. Lynch said most people are cooperative when asked by police officers to tone down the noise.
If they fail to comply, they can be charged with causing a public nuisance, he said.
According to New Canaan's town website, the noise ordinance prohibits all "motorized equipment, or machinery, powered by electricity, gasoline or other fuel products, including snow blowers, snow throwers, leaf blowers, leaf vacuums, lawn mowers, tractors, trimmers, chainsaws, wood chippers, log splitters, and generators, that exceed 45 decibels before 8 a.m. or later than 6 p.m. on Saturdays and on state and federal holidays; and prior to 10 a.m. or later than 4 p.m. on Sundays."