SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — A new town ordinance will prohibit certain types of noise, regardless of the time of day, as a public nuisance that are subject to monetary fines.
The Springfield Selectboard approved the Objectionable Noise Ordinance at a public hearing Monday night. The new ordinance, which has been in development for two years, builds upon the town’s existing code under Health, Sanitation, Nuisance by classifying “excessive or unusually loud sounds” as detrimental to the public’s health and wellbeing.
“The intent of this ordinance is to establish standards that will eliminate and reduce unnecessary noises that are physically harmful or otherwise detrimental to the enjoyment of life, property and maintenance of business,” the ordinance’s purpose states.
According to the ordinance, factors considered in determining whether a noise is “unreasonable” include the noise’s purpose and intensity, the time of day or night it occurs, the noise’s duration or the proximity to residences.
Types of noises that could be in violation regardless of the time of day could include radios or stereos, musical instruments, barking dogs or atypical noises from motor vehicles such as exhaust system discharges.
The ordinance provides exemptions for noises from construction or property maintenance provided they do not occur within the town’s quiet hours between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The ordinance also grants exemptions to active government or emergency response vehicles, snow removal activities, school sponsored events, agricultural or industrial sites or events that obtained a municipal noise waiver, such as a parade or fireworks display.
Violators of the ordinance could be fined up to $150 for the first offense and for additional violations committed within the same year, $250 for the second offense and up to $500 for each subsequent offense.
The new ordinance is scheduled to take effect in 60 days provided there is no appeal filed by a Springfield resident.
The selectboard also allowed the owner of 23 Valley St., a downtown property scheduled for demolition, to present his case for reconsideration, though the board declined to answer any questions or respond.
Springfield resident Donald Bishop, 76, and his attorney Richard Bowen gave a brief presentation last night in hopes to persuade the selectboard to reconsider the demolition of 23 Valley St., a property sandwiched between residential homes and the People’s United Bank building on Main Street.
According to Bowen, the town of Springfield condemned the property following an evaluation in September 2016 reporting that the building “was a nuisance and subject to imminent collapse.”
Bishop attempted to appeal the decision in court. He made many of the rehabilitations identified in the town evaluation and contracted Stantec, a consulting firm in North Springfield, Vermont, to conduct a second structural study.
The study from Stantec found that the structural integrity of the building was adequate, Bowen said.
However, the courts would not allow Bishop to submit his evidence.
“They basically said all they were going to review was the condition of the building in September 2016 and they were not going to take any new evidence of repairs and improvements,” Bowen said.
The Vermont Supreme Court upheld the decision not to new evidence following September 2016, the attorney said.
Bowen attempted to engage the selectboard in a discussion about the property’s condition today, which Bowen said “looks a heck of a lot better than it did four years ago.”
“A lot of time has passed and a lot of changes have taken place,” Bowen said to the board. “We do not understand the purpose behind the order [to demolish], we do not understand any facts that would support the order, we have invited the town to invite in an engineer to look at the building, which they have chosen not to do.”
Chairman Walter Martone thanked Bowen and Bishop for sharing their comments but did not respond to their questions or claims.
In an interview with the Eagle Times on Thursday, Sept. 17, Bishop said the town had placed locks on the property’s doors and had given him until Friday, Sept. 18 to remove any belongings he wanted to keep.
Bishop, a retired electrical contractor said he uses 23 Valley St. as a storage facility for his old electrical equipment.
“My own house is full,” Bishop said. “I would hate to have to let all that equipment go. It’s quite valuable.”
This past summer Bishop added new roofing and siding to the building and hired Gary Zezina, a structural engineer in Windsor, Vermont to evaluate the building’s structural safety again.
Zezina told the Eagle Times on Monday that he found 23 Valley St.’s structural integrity to be adequate.