Noise News for Week of August 2, 1998

Two NY Residents Sue Company for Excessive Noise and Vibrations

PUBLICATION: The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
DATE: August 8, 1998
SECTION: Local, Pg. 5C
BYLINE: Terry Webster
DATELINE: Forestville, New York
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Sherman Bailey, resident; Joseph Dolce, resident

The Buffalo News reports two Forestville, New York, residents who live near a manufacturing plant have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit charging excessive noise and vibrations.

According to the article, accusations of excessive shaking and rattling at a steel punch press operation has prompted a $3 million lawsuit by two Forestville residents who live nearby. Sherman Bailey and Joseph Dolce each are suing Megatech Inc. for $500,000 in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages for noise and vibrations coming from its subsidiary, Bailey Manufacturing, a steel punch press operation at 10987 Bennett Road. Bailey's family owned the plant before selling it to Megatech. The lawsuit claims that noise and vibrations from the plant are unreasonable and interfere with the quiet use and enjoyment of Bailey's home, which is adjacent to the plant, and Dolce's home at 11024 Bennett Road. Court papers state both plaintiffs have endured a loss in value of their property, emotional distress and psychological harm. Vibrations from the plant cause Bailey's home to shake, along with interior items such as furniture, appliances and items in cupboards, according to court papers. Bailey has unsuccessfully attempted to sound-proof his home by lining up large bales of hay between his property and the plant. Noise from the presses is estimated to be between 60 to 80 decibels at his property line, court papers state. Attorney Andrew Kehrer, who represents the plaintiffs, said State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Gerace will consider a motion Aug. 17 for an injunction to prohibit plant operations causing excessive noise or vibrations.

The article reports Bailey Manufacturing, which employs about 90 people, makes automobile parts for Delphi Harrison of Lockport and General Motors. According to Plant manager John Hines, the plant runs two shifts Monday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 3 to 11 p.m., with a couple of hours on Saturday. "Everything is done during normal business hours unless there is an emergency," he said. Hines declined comment about the lawsuit. Don Cook, president of Megatech, did not return telephone messages Friday.

The article goes on to say Town of Hanover Supervisor Donald Dalrymple and the Town Board have reported at public meetings that they witnessed the vibration of Bailey's home when the presses are running. Officials said they reviewed the zoning ordinance but found nothing that would allow them to govern the plant's operation. "There just was nothing we could do for him," Councilman Chum Bowker said. "I feel sorry for Sherman and I feel sorry for Don Cook. He's got a lot of money tied up in there." Kehrer said his clients attempted to resolve the matter out of court. "Essentially, we were forced to do this because the company would not do anything to try to resolve the problem," he said.

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NH to Expand I-95 Visitor Center and Erect Noise Barriers to Offset Increased Traffic Noise

PUBLICATION: The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
DATE: August 8, 1998
SECTION: Section A Pg. 5
BYLINE: Jerry Miller
DATELINE: Seabrook, New Hampshire

The Union Leader reports the New Hampshire Department of Transportation has announced plans for a major expansion of the visitor center on Interstate 95 just north of the Massachusetts state line. Barriers will be erected to mitigate expected increases in noise levels at nearby homes.

According to the article, Project Director Jeff Brillhart said yesterday the existing building and parking facilities are inadequate, given the number of tourists utilizing the building. According to Brillhart, the state plans to expand the current 1,500 square foot structure to 5,000 square feet, while increasing the number of parking spaces for cars from 61 to 204. Parking spaces for trucks will also be increased, from 30 to 50. Work also will be done on the ramp areas leading to and from the site, and noise barriers will be erected to offset an expected increase in noise levels to nearby residences. Construction is expected to begin in mid-October, with completion anticipated by October, 1999.

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Executive's Helicopter Permitted Daily Trip Despite Maryland Residents' Complaints about Noise

PUBLICATION: The Washington Times
DATE: August 8, 1998
SECTION: Part A; Metropolitan Times; Metro Briefs; Maryland; Lutherville; Pg. A10
DATELINE: Lutherville, Maryland

The Washington Times reports Rite Aid Chairman Martin Grass has received permission from Baltimore County officials to take off and land in his company helicopter at his home in Lutherville, Maryland, despite complaints from neighbors about the noise.

According to the article, the chopper's noise from Grass' daily commute to Rite Aid headquarters in Harrisburg, PA, lasts only 15 seconds, not long enough to cause a "detriment to the surrounding neighborhood," ruled Deputy Zoning Commissioner Timothy M. Kotroco. The dispute over landing rights in the restrictively zoned area began last summer. Grass started landing in a cornfield near his house on his estate in the valley in June of last year, then moved his landing site to nearby Helmore Farm. Commissioner Kotroco's ruling limits Grass to one round trip from Helmore daily.

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Illinois Town Adopts Ordinance to Limit Noisy Pets

PUBLICATION: Chicago Daily Herald
DATE: August 7, 1998
SECTION: Neighbor; Pg. 1
BYLINE: Deborah Kadin
DATELINE: Glen Ellyn, Illinois

The Chicago Daily Herald reports owners of animals that make excessive and continuous noise will be fined in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, in an effort to bring peace to neighborhoods.

According to the article, officials changed the long-standing noise ordinance regarding animals after a DuPage County judge declared it unconstitutional saying it was too vague. Trustees next week will be putting some teeth into enforcing an excessive barking. The "teeth" will make the rule easy to enforce and allow a fine up to $500. The new rule specifies what is meant by any continuous noise at any time of the day or night. This ordinance, though, is not directed only at dogs: squawking birds or howling tomcats come under the law too, Cox said. "Any animal, not just dogs, that makes loud raucous noises, " he added.

The article reports in the case of a barking dog complaint, a citation will be written if the dog is continuously disturbing a "reasonable person of normal sensitivities" who lives beyond the dog owner's residence. Between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., the disturbance must be for 10 minutes or more in any one hour. The time can be measured all at once, or added together if the barking occurs at least every two minutes. Between 11:01 p.m. and 6:59 a.m., the disturbance must be for 5 minutes or more in any one hour and heard every three minutes. Owners will receive one written warning before a citation is written. "If the matter goes to court, one will have to prove how long the animal kept up the noise, " said David Cox, assistant to village manager Gary Webster.

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Conn. DOT to Assess Need for Sound Barriers Along Section of I-91 Expansion

PUBLICATION: The Hartford Courant
DATE: August 7, 1998
SECTION: Town News; Pg. B1
BYLINE: Warren Woodberry Jr.
DATELINE: Rocky Hill, Connecticut

The Hartford Courant reports that in an effort to determine whether there is a need for sound barriers, the state Connecticut Department of Transportation has begun to monitor traffic noise in neighborhoods along I- 91 in Rocky Hill.

According to the article, DOT Transportation Planner Carmine Trotta said testing began last month in the area of Raymond Street. Trotta said the DOT is examining six neighborhoods to monitor. "There are a number of locations that will have to be evaluated." The Raymond Street area is the only location that has since been tested, Trotta said. The study is part of the design phase for reconstruction of I-91 from Cromwell to the Silas Deane Highway overpass in Rocky Hill. If sound barriers are found to be justified, they will be included in the construction project.

The article reports Town Deputy Mayor Barbara Surwillo said council members want to know what the DOT's study entails and will schedule a meeting with department officials. "We should meet with the DOT to make sure we're informed on the parameters of the testing, times and locations," Surwillo said. "The highway carries about 91,000 cars a day. With the increase in noise, I think the study will show a heightened need for the barriers." Final decisions will not be made until the Federal Highway Administration has reviewed the DOT's initial findings. Construction plans on I-91 include expanding the north and southbound lanes.

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Minn. Town Objects to Airport Expansion, Citing Noise Concerns and Charging Breach of Promise

PUBLICATION: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
DATE: August 7, 1998
BYLINE: Jennifer M. Fitzenberger
DATELINE: Eden Prairie, Minnesota
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Tom Heffelfinger, chairman of the airport advisory committee; Scott Kipp, senior city planner ; Ron Case, city council member

The Star Tribune reports despite pressure from the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), officials and residents in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, object to expansion of their "reliever" airport because they fear an increase in noise and an alteration in their quality of life.

According to the article, neighbors of the Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie have for years opposed a Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) plan to expand two parallel runways and build a new hangar. They fear it may cause an increase in noise at the reliever airport, which they say MAC officials promised in 1978 not to touch. Not only does the expansion go against the city's master plan, which calls for developing single-family homes and parkland where new runway zones could go, but it also could mean millions of dollars in lost property tax revenue, said Ron Case, an Eden Prairie City Council member.

The article reports officials at the MAC contend that expansion is necessary to keeping up with the airplane rush. Citing a booming economy and predictions of growth in flights by corporate jets in the Twin Cities area, Gary Schmidt, director of reliever airports for the MAC, favors expanding the runways at Flying Cloud to relieve congestion of corporate traffic from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and better serve the Eden Prairie area, he said. Construction on the project could begin in 2000 if its environmental impact statement, expected to be completed in December, is approved by the state Environmental Quality Board and if the MAC gives it the go-ahead.

The article states that of the MAC's six reliever airports, Flying Cloud is the busiest. While expansion is included in the other five reliever airports' long-term comprehensive plans, Flying Cloud is the MAC's highest priority, Schmidt said. If Flying Cloud expands, it could attract additional corporate traffic, some of which could be housed in a hangar proposed for a 25-acre plot south of the parallel runways - land that the MAC hopes to purchase. "In general aviation, the highest growth is in corporate aircraft," Schmidt said. "Our responsibility is to make sure we have the facilities to meet that demand." Economically, the plan is a "tremendous opportunity for the community," said Alan Nitchman, vice president of operations for Elliot Aviation, which is based at Flying Cloud. Those who fear more jet noise fear wrongly, he said, because technology has created quieter aircraft.

According to the article, although the additional traffic could boost corporate growth, Eden Prairie is reluctant to support it "on a local level," said Scott Kipp, senior planner for the city. "While providing an alternative for jet aircraft use, we have yet to see direct positive impact to the city itself," he said. "We've concluded that the expansion will change the character of the airport." Eden Prairie could lose tax revenue on more than 300 acres that the MAC is in the process of acquiring and could see an increase in early morning and late-night noise, Kipp said. Council Member Case, who took an early stand against the project, said, "There's a real cost-benefit matter here. Not only will it alter the quality of life, but it will take away our tax base." Four nearby homes could be acquired for the expansion, said MAC planner Mark Ryan. On at least one occasion, the City Council voted unanimously against Flying Cloud expansion, although it has been widely debated for years, said Case, who lives about a half-mile from the airport. Mostly, he said, he is afraid of the unknown. "Put a 5,000-foot runway in there and 2010 technology and who knows [what could happen]?" Several years ago, nearby residents formed the Zero Expansion at Flying Cloud citizens group. Zero Expansion, the MAC and the Flying Cloud Airport Advisory Committee, formed in the 1970s, are striving for a solution that is acceptable to everyone.

The article goes on to report bad feelings between Eden Prairie and the MAC started in 1978, when a lawsuit ended in the creation of Ordinance 51, which limits the size and weight of aircraft at Flying Cloud, said Tom Heffelfinger, chairman of the airport advisory committee. Along with Ordinance 51 came a promise from MAC officials never again to expand the airport, he said. "What they're saying is 'Yeah, I made this promise and it doesn't apply anymore,' " Heffelfinger said. "Personally, it's a breach of trust." The MAC's Schmidt, however, said he has never seen documentation of a promise. Expansion may have not been relevant in the 1970s, but technology and time have created quieter airplanes and a need for a bigger airport, he said.

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Noise Levels Shift Back to Usual After Summer Work at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport

PUBLICATION: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
DATE: August 7, 1998
BYLINE: Dan Wascoe Jr.
DATELINE: Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Star Tribune reports on Monday about 170 daily airplane takeoffs will be shifted back to their usual runways at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, meaning quieter skies for some nearby communities and a return to the usual noise level for other areas.

According to the article, after a summer of noisier skies over parts of Richfield and Bloomington, the skies will turn suddenly quieter Monday. For people in northeast Richfield, south Minneapolis, and parts of Eagan, the shift will restore their usual noise level. The summer change in takeoff patterns was caused by partial reconstruction of the southern parallel runway. During the 95-day reconstruction, about 170 daily takeoffs were shifted to the less-trafficked crosswind runway.

The article reports airport officials said they experienced their own increase in noise levels as people complained about noise from the crosswind runway. "We knew the use of runway departures to the southwest would add a significant amount of [noisy] activity and people would react to that," said Nigel Finney, the commission's deputy executive director for planning and environment. Next summer workers will replace 3,000 feet at the opposite, southeastern end of the southern parallel runway. But Richfield and Bloomington residents will get a respite in 2000 when part of the crosswind runway is closed for repairs and an extension of about 1,000 feet. The runway projects, as well as other construction and expansion, are the results of the decision against relocating the airport to a new site farther from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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Arizona Residents Battle Runway Expansion, Fearing Noisier Skies

PUBLICATION: The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
DATE: August 6, 1998
SECTION: Chandler Community; Pg. Ev1
BYLINE: Janie Magruder
DATELINE: Chandler, Arizona
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: George Tandy Cook III, resident; Bob Fern, resident

The Arizona Republic reports residents who live near Arizona's Chandler Municipal Airport object to proposals to lengthen one of the airport's two runways and to rezone most of the land around it for commercial or industrial development.

According to the article, George Tandy Cook III lives west of the Chandler Municipal Airport. In 1986 when he bought his home, the airport was little more than a landing field for crop-dusters. He says city officials told him that's all it would ever be. But Cook's peace and quiet disappeared into ear-pounding noise when the city opened a heliport 100 yards from his home in 1992 without, he said, first informing him or any of his neighbors. "You know that chop, chop, chop? It's 10 hours a day and all weekend," he said of the 25 to 50 helicopters that take off and land at the heliport daily. Cook is among 40 residents of two subdivisions near the airport who have the most to lose from preliminary proposals to lengthen one of the airport's two runways and to rezone most of the land around it for commercial or industrial use.

The article reports the residents also have much to gain if the city can come up with the $1.4 million to move the heliport to the eastern side of the airport. That's where it should have been in the first place, away from residential areas, Cook said. Airport Manager Greg Chenoweth said the western side was the best place at the time because the city didn't own land to the south or east of the runways. And a heliport on the northern side would have interfered with the airport's flight paths and aircraft parking, he said. But Cook believes the city built the heliport near them to force them out and pave the way for commercial and industrial developers. "Residential is a problem to a commercial operation," he said. "If you want to get rid of that, where do you put the helipad?"

The article goes on to say the noise tormenting Cook and his neighbors isn't loud enough, by Federal Aviation Administration standards, to justify FAA funds for the heliport relocation, Chenoweth said. Even if the FAA agrees to a special consideration of Chandler's request, it isn't likely to happen for two years, he said. Based on what city officials have done in the past, Cook doesn't believe it ever will. "The day after we voted down jets, they started building a jet runway and denied it was one," he said. In 1989, Chandler residents approved an initiative banning jet aircraft from the airport because of noise. But the City Attorney's Office, fearing a legal challenge to the initiative, advised the City Council to change the language to limit runway length to 4,850 feet, in effect, banning large jets. Supporters of the initiative agreed to the wording change. Chandler resident Bob Fern, who supported the 1989 jet ban, said the city doesn't need more air traffic. Take-offs and landings are up 25 percent over the past two years, according to statistics. "They probably would get more business here, but the skies over Chandler would certainly be noisier," Fern said.

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Residents of Housing Project Near Georgia Airport to be Relocated

PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal (Atlanta, Georgia)
DATE: August 6, 1998
SECTION: South Fulton Extra; Pg. 06Jk
BYLINE: Delbert Ellerton
DATELINE: College Park, Georgia

The Atlanta Journal reports residents of Lottie Miller Homes public housing project in College Park, Georgia, should soon get relief from airplane noise roaring overhead day and night, a city lawyer said this week.

According to the article, the complex, which sits in the flight path of planes departing and landing on Hartsfield International Airport's north runway, is the only remaining College Park community that's deeply affected by airplane noise. In the early 1980s, single-family homes in the area were bought out because of the airplane noise and some apartment complexes were insulated to reduce the noise, but nothing was done to relieve the conditions for residents at Lottie Miller. Federal officials in late June approved the College Park Housing Authority's plans to relocate residents. Now housing officials are awaiting approval of the money needed to move the residents.

The article reports a major stumbling block in relocating Lottie Miller residents had been getting federal approval of the demolition and disposition plan for the property. The plan spells out how the housing authority will dispose of the property, redevelop it, and relocate tenants. The plan was first submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last year, but its approval was delayed because federal officials said the plan was incomplete, said City Attorney Kirby Glaze. The plan calls for the Lottie Miller complex to be sold to Atlanta for $4 million. Residents then would be given housing vouchers to relocate, and the community would be redeveloped as a low-to-moderate income housing. College Park officials have given a contract for the sale of the property to Atlanta officials with a proposed closing date of Sept. 29. However, Atlanta officials have not yet responded, Glaze said.

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Group in Dallas Suburb Unites to Quiet Leafblower Noise

PUBLICATION: The Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX)
DATE: August 6, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. 23A
BYLINE: David Flick
DATELINE: Highland Park, Texas
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Guy C. Lyman III, resident; Mike George, resident

The Dallas Morning News reports some residents of Highland Park, Texas, have formed a group to muster support and convince officials to ban leafblowers in their Dallas suburb.

According to the article, Guy C. Lyman III hates leaf blowers. "I can't stand the sound of the things," he said. "I decided to do this after I realized I couldn't go out on my front porch to relax without hearing them." Lyman, an area businessman, is leading a group of other Highland Park residents that wants to ban, or at least curb, the use of the machines in their community. He has met with town officials, who are studying the matter. George Patterson, Highland Park town administrator, said the council's public safety committee will research the issue and make a recommendation to the full council this autumn.

The article reports an effort to restrict leaf blowers a few years ago failed because town officials felt there was no public support for such a strong measure, Patterson said. Mike George, one of Lyman's allies, said the group may begin a petition drive to build public support. George said. "Our point is that there are kids trying to do homework when this noise is going on, and they can't do it," he said. "You can't go out for a walk. I'd like to work out of my home, but I can't do it until after nightfall." Apparently, there is no consensus among group members how far they want the city to go to cut the noise. "What we'd like is a total ban, but what might be a fallback position would be a curb that would allow quieter models," Lyman said. He said the group would resist an attempt restrict the machines' use to certain hours. Such an approach would be "unenforceable," he said.

The article goes on to state anti-blower ordinances have been adopted in cities on both coasts, with mixed results. After Los Angeles banned gasoline-powered leaf blowers earlier this year, a story in the Los Angeles Times found compliance sporadic. The California Legislature rejected an effort in May to outlaw such bans but is reconsidering the issue. The city council in Long Beach, Long Island, is considering rescinding a 4-year-old ban on blowers after some city officials said it was not being consistently enforced.

Robert Blair is bothered by leafblower noise too. On a morning earlier this week, Blair was preparing to use his own leaf blower on a lawn in Highland Park. But it was a quieter, lower-power blower, he said. And giving it up, he said, would be a sacrifice for both him and his customers. Blair, 75, who has been tending landscapes for 50 years, said the advent of leaf blowers revolutionized his business. "It took 10 times longer when I had to clean up with just a rake and a broom," he said. "I could go back to that, but I'd have to charge my customers more, and they wouldn't like that." Jim Harlow, another landscaper, noted that leaf blowers have come under attack from several sides. Manufacturers, he said, have had to cope with issues of safety and with concerns that exhaust fumes were harming the ozone layer. "This is just one more thing," Mr. Harlow said. He agreed with Blair that banning the noisier machines might be a good idea. "But if they would eliminate them all together, that would be a hardship on us," Harlow said. "Us landscape guys are at the bottom of the barrel, but if we had to, we would just cope with it and go on."

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Court Orders Couple to Quiet Lovemaking after Neighbors Complain of Noise in Ipswich, England

PUBLICATION: The Mirror (London, England)
DATE: August 6, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. 15
DATELINE: Ipswich, England

The Mirror reports an Ipswich, England, man has been ordered to keep his lovemaking sessions quiet or face eviction.

According to the article, nightclub barman Jasper Bramble has been ordered by a judge to keep his girlfriend quiet during sex or face eviction. Neighbors complained his lover's squeals kept them awake and made their lives a misery. One said: "She used to sound like a strangled chicken. It was a noise that went through everything." Neighbor Gerald Smith, said his wife was woken by a crashing that sounded like Bramble's bed collapsing. Ipswich County Court said the council could evict Bramble if he didn't pay a court fee and rent arrears.

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Penn. Residents Want Noise Ordinance Enforced at Club in Neighboring Town

PUBLICATION: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)
DATE: August 6, 1998
SECTION: Local, Pg. B-1
BYLINE: Johnna A. Pro
DATELINE: Forest Hills, Pennsylvania
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Jane Freund, councilwoman; Betty Evans, resident

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports residents of one Pennsylvania town are bothered by noise coming from a club just over the line in a nearby town. Forest Hills residents are pushing for Wilkinsburg to enforce its own noise ordinances.

According to the article, on most weekends, the Parkway Cabana Club subjects Betty Evans and her neighbors to music they'd rather not hear. "It's mostly Friday and Saturday and sometimes Sunday nights," said Evans, whose home is on a hill overlooking the club. "The music just rises and carries. We know everything that goes on down there. It's an absolute nuisance. Totally. It's a blight," Evans said. The problem has escalated, she said, ever since the former owners sold the club. The new management now rents out the facility for private pool parties that neighbors say go on as late as 1 a.m. Those parties have brought a host of nuisances to the neighborhood: strangers wandering around at all hours of the night, speeding and litter. But it's mostly the music that bothers residents. The difficulty for Evans and her neighbors, though, is that they live in Forest Hills.

The article reports the edge of club's parking lot - at the end of Sherwood Road, and the club itself, is within a sliver of Wilkinsburg that is on the southern side of the Parkway East. Because complaints to Forest Hills have been futile - borough officials can't do much because the tennis and swimming club isn't in Forest Hills - Evans and others went to Wilkinsburg last night to complain. "What we really want to do is encourage Wilkinsburg to enforce its own noise ordinance," said Jane Freund, a Forest Hills councilwoman who lives just a block from the club. "The noise emanating from the Parkway Cabana Club is being absorbed by Forest Hills." Freund said Wilkinsburg police have responded quickly to the complaints from Forest Hills residents. Even so, the noise persists, she said. "We do call the Wilkinsburg police. This hasn't solved the problem," Freund said.

The article states club owner Gary Tuckfelt could not be reached for comment, but Wilkinsburg officials said Tuckfelt was receptive to trying to address the concerns. Borough Manager John Marquart said he had sent Tuckfelt a letter and a copy of the borough's noise ordinance. In addition, Wilkinsburg police Chief Gerald Brewer said he visited the club and spoke with Tuckfelt. The club's speakers are pointed toward the parkway, away from homes, Brewer said. He said his officers would respond to all noise complaints about the club and had advised Tuckfelt that if there were complaints, additional action might have to be taken. But like borough officials, Brewer said he was concerned that the matter be handled properly because Tuckfelt was operating a business in the borough and paying taxes there. "Obviously, we don't want to have to go out there repeatedly," Brewer told council. "But I think we'll get voluntary compliance."

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ACLU Says Noise Ordinance in Bristol, RI, Violates First Amendment, Files Lawsuit

PUBLICATION: Providence Journal-Bulletin (Providence, RI)
DATE: August 6, 1998
SECTION: News, Pg. 2D
BYLINE: Soljane Martinez
DATELINE: Bristol, Rhode Island

The Providence Journal-Bulletin reports the ACLU of Rhode Island has filed a federal lawsuit charging that the town of Bristol's noise ordinance violates the First Amendment.

According to the article, Rhode Island's ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit against Bristol challenging the constitutionality of a noise ordinance that bars people from making any noises that are "physically annoying." Carolyn Mannis, a volunteer attorney for the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, filed the suit on behalf of Paula Scott, owner of the Crystal Enchantment Gift Shop, in downtown Bristol, after Scott received a cease-and-desist order from the town for playing music in front of her shop. "Bristol's noise ordinance is blatantly unconstitutional. Its enforcement against citizens of Bristol threatens the free speech rights of all," Mannis said.

The article reports Bristol's town ordinance bars noises that are "so harsh, so prolonged or unnatural, or unusual in their use, time and place, as to occasion physical discomfort." Scott had placed speakers on a bench located outside her shop and played New Age music during her business hours, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to Mannis. "If you took three steps you couldn't hear the music," Mannis quoted Scott as saying. On July 16, town official Mark Zawatski ordered Scott to remove the speakers and told her she would be fined $100 for each day in which she continued to play music. Scott stopped the music. "I can't believe Bristol would ban relaxing music. For a town trying to promote tourism, this is a step in the wrong direction," she said. The suit claims that her business has decreased since she stopped the music. Mannis said the ordinance in unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, in violation of the First Amendment. She states in the suit that it gives the town Zoning Officer "virtually unbridled discretion to determine who may be in violation of it." Scott is seeking a temporary restraining order against Bristol to stop the town from enforcing the statute; a declaration that the statute is unconstitutional; a permanent injunction so the ordinance can never be enforced again; and monetary damages and attorney's fees, Mannis said.

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As Air Traffic Increases at San Francisco Airport, More Towns Affected by Jet Noise

PUBLICATION: The San Francisco Chronicle
DATE: August 6, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. A17; Bay Area Focus
BYLINE: Benjamin Pimentel
DATELINE: Palo Alto, California
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Eileen Larsen, mayor of Foster City; Elizabeth Boudart, resident of Palo Alto

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the outrage over jet noise is spreading to communities further and further south of the San Francisco International Airport as air traffic increases.

According to the article, for years, the cities of San Bruno, South San Francisco and Millbrae have battled the San Francisco International Airport over noise. Now, the outrage over jet noise is spreading southward to such places as Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Foster City. Residents of these cities are now demanding that the airport order jet planes to stop flying over their houses. "It's the same thing as jaywalking -- but it's jayflying," said Foster City Mayor Eileen Larsen. "They are flying across the cities of the Peninsula from Los Altos Hills to Burlingame and others." Southern Peninsulans complain mainly about noise from arriving planes. "Why these pilots can't fly over the bay or fly higher is beyond my comprehension," Palo Alto resident Elizabeth Boudart said.

The article reports airport spokesman Ron Wilson said an increase in international flights using larger jet planes means more noise. And more arriving flights from the north and the Pacific are also using a landing route that takes them over a larger chunk of the Peninsula. "These larger aircraft are going to be applying power, and they are going to make noise. There are newer types of aircraft that are relatively quiet -- but you are still going to hear them," said Wilson. San Francisco International and other airports are required to keep noise in nearby communities to 65 decibels averaged over 24 hours, with heavier weight given to noise in the evening and late at night. Sixty-five decibels is about the noise level of a normal face-to-face conversation. Ideally, arriving flights from the north or the Pacific fly south from Point Reyes to the bay, where they take a sharp right turn onto SFO. Called the "slam dunk" approach, this is the quietest flight pattern. But more and more flights are taking the "Peninsula approach," an alternate route that takes them down the Peninsula before turning sharply left as they make their final approach to the airport.

The article goes on to report Andy Richards, acting manager of Bay Tracon, a federal agency that monitors flights to and from Bay Area airports, said the Peninsula pattern is being used more often because of an increase in air traffic over the bay -- airspace San Francisco-bound planes share with flights to and from other airports. In the Bay Area's complex aviation system, San Francisco airport officials say that they do not have much control over how and where planes fly. "You have the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) concerned with flight routes, safety and security," said airport community affairs specialist Dan Seaver. "You have the airline pilots who control individual flights. You have the airlines which have their own concerns over safety, efficiency and fuel costs. You have international trade agreements which say we cannot restrict planes."

According to the article, many southern Peninsulans are not satisfied with that explanation. They are becoming more politically active in the fight against noise. Palo Alto is trying to become the first Santa Clara County city to join the Airport Community Roundtable, the advisory body composed of representatives from San Mateo County and San Francisco that negotiates with SFO on noise issues. "We thought it made a lot of sense to be part of the Roundtable so we could contribute," said Palo Alto Mayor Dick Rosenbaum. But the city's application has been denied. Airport officials and Roundtable members say Palo Alto's problem is nowhere near as bad as it is in San Mateo County. Adding more members could dilute the discussions. "If we open up to Santa Clara County, pretty soon we will have 100 elected officials telling the airport and the Roundtable what to do," Wilson said. "It will get so unruly that you will not get anything done. Everyone will have their own agenda." At least one Roundtable member, Foster City, has become disillusioned with the group. "It's a discussion group," Larsen said. "It has no budget. It has no power. It has no staff of its own. It has as much power as the PTA." Some southern Peninsula residents even formed their own citizens anti-airport noise group called Uproar. And, recently, in a controversial move, Foster City took the unprecedented step of hiring a law firm in its battle for a quieter SFO.

The article reports Larsen said Foster City hopes to challenge the assertion in court by San Francisco airport director John Martin that federal law limits his powers over flight routes. Foster City hopes to present the Roundtable with a legal brief later this year supporting the position that Martin has more regulatory power. "He (Martin) is saying nothing is within his power," Larsen said. "But we believe that's not the way things are. There are things he can do, and we would like him to be able to do this. Our duty is to make skies over Foster City safe." Martin says he would gladly use any additional power Foster City's attorneys could uncover for him. "If their attorneys find a way for me to exercise more power over the airlines and the FAA, I'd be happy to use the power," he said. Ed Simon, mayor of San Bruno, one of the Roundtable's longtime members, criticized Foster City's initiative, saying, "The noise was there before the people bought their houses."

The article states San Francisco International and the airlines had tried to stop the development of Foster City more than 35 years ago -- when the city was still an piece of undeveloped land called Brewer Island. In a March 1960 resolution, the SFO Sound Abatement Center, formed by the airport, the airlines and the FAA to deal with noise issues, urged the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors not to build residential communities on Brewer Island because they would be subjected to aircraft noise. The advice was ignored, and Foster City was incorporated in 1971.

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Maine Residents Object to Noise from Salvation Army's New 1,421 Seat Pavilion

PUBLICATION: Portland Press Herald (Portland, ME)
DATE: August 5, 1998
SECTION: York County & State, Pg. 1B
BYLINE: David Connerty-Marin Staff Writer
DATELINE: Old Orchard Beach, Maine

The Portland Press Herald reports on opening night of The Salvation Army's new pavilion in Old Orchard Beach, the noise was already too loud for neighbors. The group received a summons from police to appear in court for violating the town's noise ordinance.

According to the article, the Salvation Army opened its facility in the midst of neighbors' concerns that a new 1,421-seat pavilion would disturb its neighborhood of narrow streets and small houses. But only hours into the facility's inaugural event on Friday night, noise from the speakers used at the service and dedication ceremony exceeded the decibel limit in the Old Orchard Beach's noise ordinance. Sounds may not go above 55 decibels at the edge of a property. Police first warned the group to turn down the volume. Later that night the noise was still above the legal level, according to the complaint, prompting the summons. The case is scheduled for Oct. 9 in Biddeford District Court. Violators of the noise law can be fined $100.

The article reports V. Louise Reed, the Salvation Army's director, is trying to ensure that this week's camp meeting doesn't further strain relations between the group and residents. "We've been here for years and never had this before," Reed said. She thinks the recent friction over the building of the pavilion and the scheduling of events there caused complaints Friday night about noise. Reed said, "We are a good neighbor and have a great respect for our neighbors and care about them." Neighbors say they were happy to tolerate the 10-day annual meeting, but they did not welcome a whole season of traffic and parking headaches and noise that the new larger structure would bring. Monica Lovecky can see the pavilion from her Washington Street house. "This weekend it was a nightmare," said Lovecky on Tuesday evening. Lovecky complained that many people did not take the shuttle bus the Army arranged for participants to take to the pavilion after parking in a designated area. Also, she said several drivers came into the neighborhood to drop off their families, then drove to area assigned for parking. "I have no patience left," Lovecky said. "It's just a constant flow of traffic 24 hours a day. If they want to do this for 10 weeks, I'll be beside myself." Reed sees some problems, but thinks relations will improve. "I think the neighbors have been pleased with what we have done as far as the parking situation," she said. She has walked the neighborhood the last few nights and tried to resolve parking problems. "I'm not saying there aren't problems to be solved," Reed said. "I think the majority of our neighbors feel we've done a good job as we have for 113 years."

The article states the pavilion is owned and run by the group's New York headquarters. But the summons was made to Maj. Gary Asperschlager, head of the local corps. David Ordway, the group's lawyer, said he has "serious reservations" about the ordinance. "At the very least, the ordinance is unrealistic," he said. Normal background noise from cars and radios in this area and other neighborhoods often exceeds what is allowed by the ordinance, he said.

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NJ Bill Would Replace Earsplitting Train Horns with Bells at Crossings

PUBLICATION: The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
DATE: August 5, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. L03
BYLINE: John Cichowski
DATELINE: Trenton, New Jersey
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Representative Rick Merkt, R-Mendham; Representative Alex DeCroce, R-Parsippany-Troy Hills; Robert Belz, resident

The Record reports a New Jersey state bill, introduced in the Assembly last week, would require trains to use bells instead of loud horns at grade crossings at a town's request.

According to the article, while the bill calling for bells instead of horns may provide the solution to a dilemma that has upset some Morris County residents, it may also force NJ Transit into the middle of a jurisdictional dispute. Since the Midtown Direct service began two years ago, the number of NJ Transit trains, and earsplitting, late-night horn blasts, at crossings in Denville, Parsippany-Troy Hills, and Morris Township have nearly doubled. Residents have packed municipal council meetings to complain about the noise. But local officials have little say over the federally regulated rail industry. "We're trying to elevate the debate to the state Legislature to see if we can get some relief," said co-sponsor Rick Merkt, R-Mendham. "We think we have a real good chance of getting the bill through committee." The bill's lead sponsor is Alex DeCroce, R-Parsippany-Troy Hills, who chairs the Assembly Transportation Committee.

The article reports state action may not be enough to stop the 90-decibel noise, however. "Our industry is federally regulated," said NJ Transit spokesman Steve Coleman. "We're waiting for a Federal Railway Administration study to offer us some safe alternatives to sounding horns at grade crossings." FRA rules require that horns be sounded at crossings as safety measures. But the Essex County towns of Montclair, Bloomfield, and Glen Ridge require that locomotives sound only bells at crossings after sundown. NJ Transit obeys those local ordinances "only as a courtesy," said Coleman, because they were written before the railroad purchased the lines through those towns. FRA regulations require horns to discourage motorists from driving around crossing gates to avoid waiting for trains to pass. Federal regulators say statistics show in Florida and other states that train-car accidents and deaths increase dramatically when horns are banned. They say bells are not loud enough to be effective deterrents.

The article goes on to say one study suggests that before the sounding of horns is stopped, one of two changes must be made: Either four gates should be erected at crossings instead of two, or concrete dividers should be installed between lanes leading to crossings to prevent motorists from ignoring the gates when a train passes. But opponents point to the high cost of these solutions, and some argue that urban states would not experience the same increase in train-car collisions as rural states where the rules have been suspended. Congress has sent several proposals back to the FRA for revision over the years, but congressional leaders have promised to forge a compromise later this year. "Congress has been playing with this issue for years," said Robert Belz, who leads the opposition to horns in Denville. "We want action now."

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Florida County Drops Grandfathering Clause in Proposed Noise Ordinance

PUBLICATION: The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News (Stuart, FL)
DATE: August 5, 1998
SECTION: A Section; Pg. A1
BYLINE: Kevin Osborne
DATELINE: Stuart, Florida
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Phyllis Kehoe, representative of the Mid-County Coalition

The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News reports Martin County, Florida's, proposed noise rules could cost some businesses thousands of dollars to be in compliance.

According to the article, county commissioners delayed a decision Tuesday on the noise rules to continue refining the proposal. But the latest version deletes a provision that exempted existing businesses from the rules. In a previous version of the noise rules reviewed in June, businesses already operating in Martin County wouldn't have had to comply with the restrictions. Pioneer Concrete Tile, a Hobe Sound tile manufacturer, opposed the latest change and asked who initiated the deletion. Neither commissioners nor county staffers gave an answer. "I believe what has been created is that all of the existing businesses in Martin County believed this would not apply to them," said Karen Kaplan, Pioneer's attorney. But a supporter of the latest version of the ordinance believes all businesses should be included to ensure its effectiveness. The whole purpose of this is to give relief for the health, safety and welfare for residents, said Phyllis Kehoe, who represents the Mid-County Coalition and is a registered lobbyist. It's important that businesses don't believe they can be grandfathered. County Attorney Gary Oldehoff said the proposal would allow businesses to seek a variance, giving them extra time to come into compliance. But Kaplan said that would require added expense for sound-control devices.

The article reports Mark Witt, a Miami noise control specialist, said such costs can vary widely, depending on the type of facility. Recent projects by Witt's firm have ranged from $2,800 to $12,000 or more. Witt, who has reviewed about 200 noise ordinances in communities nationwide during the past five years, said Martin County's proposal is well-drafted and could withstand legal challenges. Others disagreed. Some commissioners preferred the local ordinance be modeled after Fort Lauderdale's rules, which they said used simpler language and more clearly outlines what types of noises are prohibited. David Phoebus of the state attorney's office said the noise proposal needs more work. It is vague and the punishment too severe, making a jury unlikely to convict anyone charged with a violation. The way I read it is any sound I don't like is a noise ... if you don't do this nice and tight, we won't get convictions, Phoebus told commissioners. Tell them what they can and cannot do, and when they can and cannot do it. For example, Phoebus noted that Witt's volume at a microphone while addressing commissioners exceeded sound levels allowed in the ordinance.

The article states under the county's proposal, farms would be prohibited from noise exceeding 75 decibels, which is about as loud as a garbage disposal or household drill. Homeowners would be prohibited from playing music that disturbs neighbors 50 feet away. Also, it would prohibit some noisy activities, including operating a car without a muffler, keeping loud birds without sound-control devices and using loudspeakers as a way to attract business. Other activities would be restricted to certain times, usually between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. After that time, it would be illegal to fix cars, operate leaf blowers or play any radio or television loud enough to disturb neighbors. Violations would be a criminal offense, and punishable by fines or up to 60 days in jail. Certain activities remain exempt from the rules, including golf course maintenance. County staff will review the proposal with the state attorney and sheriff's offices and make changes during the next month. Commissioners are expected to make a final decision Sept. 8.

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Not all Agree 'the Louder the Better' as Decibel Levels Rise in U.S. Films

DATE: August 5, 1998
SECTION: Life; Pg. 7D
BYLINE: Andy Seiler
DATELINE: United States
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Katherine Hall, resident; Barbara Bohne, a professor at Washington University School of Medicine;

USA Today reports movies in the United States sound louder these days because they are being recorded louder, say industry insiders. Movie goers' responses to the pumped up volume vary.

According to the article, Katherine Hall, 76, of Pasadena, Calif., loves movies but doesn't want to go deaf. "Sometimes you sit there and plug your ears," says Hall, who goes to the movies with friends once or twice a week. "The trailers are the worst. The only reason we don't wait till they're over is that then we can't get a good seat." Hall and her friends are not alone. At a recent Los Angeles screening of Armageddon, sound drove one moviegoer to the lobby. "Their ears are bleeding in there," she said.

The article reports it won't do much good if moviegoers tell the projectionist or cinema manager to turn down the volume, says Buzz Knudson, a consultant for Todd-A-O, one of the largest sound facilities in the world. "Take it down to a comfort level and some of it gets lost: music, dialogue," says Knudson, who mixed films for many years. "The dialogue will get down to a level where it won't be intelligible." Theater managers can try playing the films a bit more quietly, but they risk the studio's wrath. "We've seen a lot of customers for Saving Private Ryan who served in the war," says Joel Gill, manager of the United Artists Continental Theatre in Englewood, Colo., a suburb of Denver. "They have been moved by it. But because of them, I've kept the sound down. DreamWorks wanted it played at full blast, but I think it's too much," he says.

The article states last year, cinema sound engineers, theater operators and the major studios got together to discuss trailer volume and develop a standardization procedure. One result of that discussion is a soundtrack loudness meter created by Dolby Laboratories. The meter allows sound mixers to monitor the subjective loudness of trailer and film soundtracks as they are being prepared. Unlike the level meters normally used for soundtrack mixing, the Dolby Model 737 monitors loudness over time -- for the entire length of a trailer or film. The unit also mimics the human ear's varying sensitivity to sounds in different parts of the hearing range. William Kartozian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, praised Dolby for "embracing the issue."

According to the article, that embrace means little if filmmakers don't change their preferences. "The directors and studios want high-impact . . . sound to get your attention," says sound mixer Steve Hawk, the president of the Cinema Audio Society, a guild of sound mixers that work in film and television. Armageddon producer Jerry Bruckheimer, for example, likes his movies as loud as he can make them. That's realism, he says. "An asteroid is loud," Bruckheimer says. "Explosions are loud. All the noises associated with an action movie are loud. If you do it right, these sequences will be as loud as possible without being distorted. In some of these sequences, you have 250 sound-effects tracks running, so it really can get loud," he adds. "The most important thing is for the audience to be able to hear the dialogue. . . . You want to make sure the audience can hear what the characters are saying. So when you have people talking over all that noise, that makes things even louder."

The article reports the decibel level in an action movie like Armageddon can easily range from 95 to 105 dB, according to the Sight & Hearing Association in St. Paul, Minn., a nonprofit organization that works to prevent unnecessary vision and hearing loss. By comparison, a motorcycle or power saw is 95 dB, a chainsaw is 100 dB and a jackhammer or helicopter is 105 dB. At 95 dB, hearing damage can occur in four hours; at 100 dB, it can happen in two hours, and at 105 dB, one hour. Noise exposure needs to be continuous at that level for hearing damage to occur. "A couple of gunshots in a movie won't do much long-term damage, but a long series of machine-gun fire can," says Barbara Bohne, a professor of otolaryngology (the study of the ears, nose and throat) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Ringing in the ears and muffled-sounding speech are symptoms that you have temporary hearing loss and are potentially damaging your ears," she adds. "And surveys of students in different grades have found that there are more children and young adults with hearing loss than there ever were before." Those young adults are the ones filmmakers are trying to reach by pumping up the volume. "Young males 19 to 24 go repeated times to a movie, like a concert audience," Hawk says. "They're the core moviegoing group." And many young men say the louder, the better. "If these movies are too loud, why are they blockbusters?" asks Lorenzo DeLaurencis, 24, of Knoxville, Tenn., who loved Armageddon's blare. "Movies nowadays are experiences," he adds. "Loud sound is part of the experience. You're actually there with the people on the screen. You're actually hearing what they're hearing and seeing what they're seeing."

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Washington State Moderates Traffic Noise with Tall Noise Walls

PUBLICATION: The Seattle Times (Seattle, WA)
DATE: August 4, 1998
SECTION: East; Pg. B3
BYLINE: Peyton Whitely
DATELINE: Bellevue, Washington

The Seattle Times reports the biggest noise walls ever put up in the state of Washington are appearing on state Highway 520. Studies showed the unusual height was needed to moderate traffic sounds

According to the article, along the south edge of state Highway 520 near its intersection with Interstate 405, some 200 concrete panels as tall as 28 feet and each weighing more than 30,000 pounds are being erected and secured to concrete footings sunk about 20 feet in the ground. The tall barriers are expected to reduce noise in some areas as much as 11 decibels. A 10-decibel drop is perceived by an average person as reducing noise by half.

The article reports "The job sure had its challenges," said Kevin Schroeder, project engineer for Wilder Construction of Everett, general contractor on the $1.1 million job known as the Bellewood Farms noise wall. Most noise walls are about 18 feet high with panels installed at a rate of 30 or 40 a day, but the Bellewood job has been limited to 12 panels a day. Installation began July 13 and is near completion.

The article states the panels are among hundreds of noise barriers being erected at various locations along 520 as part of a $32 million HOV-lane widening contract. The Bellewood Farms work was bid as a separate project after residents in the area of 112th Avenue Northeast were unable to immediately decide whether they wanted a noise wall and where it should go, said Ray Arnold, a state Department of Transportation project engineer who is overseeing the work.

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Resident Questions Fairness of Noise Ordinance in Montgomery, Alabama

PUBLICATION: The Montgomery Advertiser
DATE: August 3, 1998
SECTION: Editorial; Pg. 6A
DATELINE: Montgomery, Alabama

The Montgomery Advertiser published the following letter from Hal Johnson of Montgomery, Alabama. The letter criticizes Montgomery's noise ordinance. Johnson wrote:

I applaud Mr. Moore for challenging the noise ordinance the city of Montgomery has. I think it is an ordinance that can work if it is measurable.

I received a noise ordinance ticket myself in June 1996. I was at a car wash in east Montgomery when I noticed a Montgomery Police Department officer circle the parking lot. The young female officer eventually stopped and approached my vehicle. I was cited because she claimed that she heard my radio playing too loud.

This law leaves motorists at a serious disadvantage. The courts will not even argue the issue. I lost in district court and was fined $250. I appealed the case and cut a deal, yet still was sentenced to pay court costs of $250.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the city has made hundreds of thousands of dollars on the noise ordinance alone and the two months that were mentioned in the Montgomery Advertiser -- 770 tickets in May, 502 in June -- was $254,000. That included a $150 citation plus $50 in court costs.

Not everybody who receives a ticket has boom boxes. Five feet away from your vehicle is a mighty short distance for such a high cost.

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No Peace and Quiet? In Maryland, Call Noise Cop

PUBLICATION: The Sun (Baltimore, MD)
DATE: August 2, 1998
SECTION: Telegraph (News), Pg. 1A
BYLINE: Liz Atwood
DATELINE: Maryland
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Dave Jarinko, noise inspector for Maryland Department of the Environment; Stan Kollar, resident; Michael Sharon, head of the Department of Environment's Technical and Regulatory Services Administration

The Sun reports in an effort to respond to a new focus on noise, Maryland's Department of the Environment now employs a state noise cop.

According to the article, Dave Jarinko wears a uniform and badge and carries a $10,000 sound sensor that can measure the hum of a swimming pool pump -- or the squawk of a peacock. Jarinko travels the state investigating noise complaints as diverse as firing ranges, dirt bikes, air conditioners and church bells. Jarinko takes on noise issues that local police or zoning officials can't or won't handle, traveling to every jurisdiction in the state except Montgomery County, which has its own noise program. While most cities have noise ordinances, Maryland is one of only 13 states with noise control programs, according to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, which was formed two years ago in Montpelier, VT, to provide information on noise issues.

The article reports laws against disturbing the peace have been on the books for ages, but there's a new focus on noise, especially in suburban and rural areas where people have moved expecting quiet. In Baltimore County last year, police tallied 10,260 noise complaints, compared with 7,308 noise calls in 1992. "The awareness of noise is beginning to pick up," says Jarinko, who handles between 150 and 200 cases a year. "Noise today is where secondhand smoke was 10 years ago." Jarinko says people react with amazement when he introduces himself as the state's noise cop: "People say, 'Get a life' -- until they have a noise problem they can't get addressed."

The article states that while some of the most common sources of noise complaints -- cars, airplanes, boats and farm equipment -- fall outside his scope, Jarinko has plenty of noise cases to investigate. Typical is a recent dispute in Harford County where neighbors are complaining about the noise from a dirt bike track a family built for a teen-age son and his friends. "I don't see where it is bothering anyone," says Debbie Snyder, who sees biking as a wholesome family activity. "I was keeping my son off drugs, off drinking, it's the only place where they can arrive that is safe." But her neighbor, Stan Kollar, complains that the roar of the bikes prevents him from enjoying the tranquillity of his own wooded yard. Before calling Jarinko, Kollar had appealed to local police and zoning officials but got no relief. "Being subjected to that kind of noise is overwhelming for a long period of time," he says. The feud between the neighbors has been simmering for years. "By the time we get called, we're walking into a delicate situation," says Michael Sharon, head of the Department of Environment's Technical and Regulatory Services Administration, which oversees the noise program. Jarinko is trying to mediate, hoping to help the neighbors reach an amicable compromise. "It is so typical," he says. "The generator of the noise is not involved in any evil activity, but the neighbors expect quiet enjoyment of their property." Jarinko is a diplomatic negotiator. "I've ridden motorcycles all my life," he tells Snyder. "That's the best dirt bike track I've ever seen." But while admiring the family's work in creating the track for their son, he knows the law is on the side of the neighbors who complained about the noise. Under state law, noise reaching a neighboring residential property cannot exceed 65 decibels during the day -- about the level of a normal conversation. It must be below 55 decibels at night.

According to the article, noise that might go unnoticed in the city at 70 decibels can be obtrusive in the country at 50 decibels. Most of Jarinko's calls are in suburban and rural areas, where the hum of a swimming pool pump in the middle of the night can be maddening, or where the scream of a peacock at 5 a.m. can ignite tempers. "Noise can drive people nuts to where they want to kill their neighbors," Jarinko says. Noise offenders can face fines of $10,000 a day, but most of Jarinko's cases are resolved amicably. "Our basic goal is to solve the problem," Jarinko says. But as suburbia grows, Jarinko expects the number of noise complaints to increase. "As a quality-of-life issue, it's going to be more of an awareness around the country," he says.

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Turn Up the Volume, Noise May Cause Less Damage Than Silence

PUBLICATION: The Daily Telegraph
DATE: August 4, 1998
BYLINE: Paul Goodman

The Daily Telegraph published the following humorous and contemplative article about contemporary noise and the strains and stresses of silence from columnist Paul Goodman.

SSSHHH! You there. Yes, you. Please stop it at once. You are disturbing the rest of this newspaper's readers. Yesterday's letters column was full of complaints - you must have read it. Excuse me: what did you just say? Well, kindly moderate your tone. After all, it was you, not me, who started it - the noise, I mean. Daily Telegraph readers are fed up with this racket. Background music, braying audiences, background noise - and not just on television, either. You can't get a moment's peace around here. Imagine the life of a village - as the century began, say, in the period described by Flora Thompson in Lark Rise to Candleford. The village rises to birdsong and retires to it. In between, as on Old MacDonald's farm, each animal makes its animal noise: there's an oink-oink here, a moo-moo there. Bells clang, harnesses jangle, hammers clank on anvils. The men of the village, who plough and scatter in the fields, munch and chatter for an hour at lunchtime. There is rather more talk (or, as the men would have put it, rather more gossip) between the women. Children squeal as they dance long-forgotten dances and chant long-vanished rhymes: "Queen Queen Caroline/ Dipped her neck in turpentine/ Why did she look so fine?/ Because she wore a Crinoline." On Saturdays, the men lurch off to the pub, where they drink, sing and sometimes do both at once. But there are no humming cars, yet, nor buzzing planes. There is no noise, as we now think of it. Or rather, as we don't. For there is so much noise in modern life, surely, that we usually take it for granted - alarm clocks, radios, televisions, Walkmans, telephones, answering machines, mobile phones, pagers, videos, stereos, ghetto blasters, aircraft, traffic. As it is in our private spaces, so it is with our public ones. Look at (or rather listen to) restaurants. Once upon a time, which was not so long ago, they were as quiet as libraries, and quite as easy to hide away in. Now they are as noisy as clubs, with great glasshouse windows that put diners on public display. Hell, Martin Amis wrote, will be packed: hell will be busy. And as noise rises, voices rise too, in hypermarkets and walkways, on talk-shows and phone-ins. Adults whine and squabble. Children are heard, but not seen. Yes: we may take noise, like crime, for granted but, like crime again, it can stretch us to breaking point. Road rage is dead - or yesterday's fad, at the least. Long live noise rage. But just suppose, for a moment, that you could turn off all the noise - as easily as you can zap the television with a hand-held remote control. What would the absence of noise be like? Silence is golden, the proverb has it. It can bring wonder: "He stared at the Pacific - and all his men/ Looked at each other with a wild surmise -/ Silent, upon a peak in Darien". It can bring peace: John Tavener, whose music was used to such effect at Diana's funeral, uses silence to reach that end. It can even bring enlightenment: St Benedict was suspicious of laughter because he thought it could distract his monks from searching, in silence, for God. "The fool lifteth up his voice in laughter," he wrote, quoting from the Psalms. What would "the father of Western monasticism" have made of Mariana Funes, the "laughter therapist" interviewed in last weekend's Telegraph Magazine, who points out that laughter "is a way of releasing stress"? And silence can certainly be, if not exactly stressful, then full of strain. "Le silence eternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie," wrote Pascal: silence can bring terror instead of wonder, remorse rather than peace, emptiness instead of fulfilment. Harold Pinter's grotesque stage silences, which are marked in the text of his plays and became one of the butts of Private Eye, are used to build menace. Men who have been held captive - such as Brian Keenan, the Irishman who was held hostage alongside John McCarthy in Lebanon during the 1980s - often report that they can endure threats, abuse and maltreatment more readily than silence and its companion, loneliness. For the isolated or bereaved, noise is disturbing, but silence can be terrible. "The rest is silence," says Hamlet. We make what we will of the line. To some, that silence suggests eternity, and Hamlet's entrance into it. To others, it suggests nothingness, and no more. And as it is with Shakespeare's play, so it is with real life: we must come to terms with silence as best we can. It will yield up its secrets, if there are any, in its own time; there is nothing we can do to hurry them out. What is certain is that, just as there can be too much noise, there can also be too much silence. The lark rises of England were abandoned, over the course of a hundred years or more, for the cities and the opportunities they offered. Those Walkmans and pagers and mobiles, come to think of it, are today's typewriters and telegrams and telexes. So is a little noise really worse than the alternative? Now, please. I wasn't thinking of you. And kindly keep your voice down. We're trying to do some work around here.

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Noise and Conduct Ordinance Receives Final Approval from Pittsburgh City Council

PUBLICATION: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DATE: August 4, 1998
SECTION: Local, Pg. B-3, City Neighborhoods
DATELINE: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pittsburgh City Council has approved new "noise pollution" legislation intended to improve the city's quality of life. The ordinance was written as a response to residents' complaints about booming car stereos and is expected to take effect October 1, provided the mayor signs the bill.

According to the article the ordinance sets a $150 fine for playing stereos louder than 68 decibels. For a second citation, violators will pay $300 and have their cars booted if the first fine hasn't been paid.

The article reports that police will be given 14 new sound meters to judge decibel levels emanating from cars or homes. A police officer may also issue citations without meters if stereos can be heard from a distance of 75 feet.

According to the article the legislation passed by a 6-3 vote. Council members Jim Ferlo, Valerie A. McDonald and Sala Udin voted against the legislation. Udin succeeded in adding an amendment, however, that requires the Public Safety Department to prepare an educational program before Oct. 1 to inform people about the law and promote civility. Udin is quoted in the article saying, "I think we ought to approach the youth of the city and adults who play loud music not in a hostile way."

The paper reports that councilman Dan Onorato - who proposed the legislation - and Councilman Gene Ricciardi referred to Udin's addition, a "feel-good" amendment. After the vote Onorato reportedly announced, "Let's be clear here. We cannot legislate parental guidance."

According to the article Onorato drafted the bill as a response to residents' complaints about booming car stereos, sometimes "played so loudly that they rattle windows and furniture as the cars roll by homes," the article stated. Onorato therefore has promoted the bill as "one piece of the bigger puzzle on quality of life issues this council has been addressing. It goes a long way toward keeping people in this city," the article said, quoting Onorato's words.


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Trains in New Jersey May be Required to Use Bells Instead of Horns

DATE: August 4, 1998
SECTION: News; 2 Star P; Pg. L01
BYLINE: John Cichowski
DATELINE: Bergen County, New Jersey

The Record reports that New Jersey's state legislature is setting forth a bill that calls for trains to use locomotive bells instead of horns. The bill is seen as a potential solution to a dilemma that has upset some Morris County residents since NJ Transit started commuter train service to Manhattan.

NJ Transit began providing Midtown Direct service two years ago. Since then the number of NJ Transit trains and their "earsplitting, late-night horn blasts" have nearly doubled at crossings in Denville, Parsippany-Troy Hills, and Morris Township.

The article reports that residents have paraded into municipal council meetings to complain about the noise. But local officials have been able to do little more than offer sympathy since they have almost no ability to govern the federally regulated rail industry.

The bill, introduced in the state Assembly last week, would mandate the trains to cease blasting the loud horns at grade crossings and use bells instead when requested by the town.

Rick Merkt, R-Mendham, a co-sponsor of the bill, is quoted in the article saying "We're trying to elevate the debate to the state Legislature to see if we can get some relief. We think we have a real good chance of getting the bill through committee." The lead sponsor for the bill is Alex DeCroce, R-Parsippany-Troy Hills, head of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

Raising the issue at the state level may force NJ Transit into the middle of a jurisdictional dispute. According to the article state action may not be able to stop the 90-decibel noise. Spokesperson for the NJ Transit, Steve Coleman, is quoted saying, "Our industry is federally regulated. We're waiting for a Federal Railway Administration study to offer us some safe alternatives to sounding horns at grade crossings."

FRA regulations require that horns be sounded at crossings as safety measures. The horns are intended to discourage motorists from driving around guardrails in an attempt to avoid waiting at crossings. According to the Federal regulators, research findings in Florida and other states demonstrate that train-car accidents and deaths rise dramatically when horns are banned.

Bells, the FRA says, are not loud enough to be effective deterrents.

But towns in Essex County including Montclair, Bloomfield, and Glen Ridge each require trains to sound only bells at crossings after sundown. According to the article NJ Transit follows the local ordinances "only as a courtesy," quoting Coleman's words, because these ordinances were in place before the railroad purchased the railroad lines that go through those towns.

The article discusses other research that recommends that one of two changes be made before the sounding of horns is stopped: Either erect four instead of two gates at crossings, or install concrete dividers between the lanes that lead to crossings to prevent motorists from ignoring the gates when a train passes through.

The high cost of these solutions, make them less available, according to opponents. Others argue that urban states would not experience the same increase in train-car collisions as rural states since rules in the urban states have been suspended.

FRA has received several of its proposals back from Congress for revisions over the years, but congressional leaders have promised to forge a compromise later this year.

One of the persons leading the opposition to horns in the city of Denveill, Robert Belz, is quoted in the article, "Congress has been playing with this issue for years. We want action now."

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Night Flights Upset Neighbors Near O’Hare International Airport

PUBLICATION: Chicago Tribune
DATE: August 4, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. 1; Zone: N
BYLINE: Rogers Worthington, with contributions from Eric Ferkenhoff
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Tribune reports an increase in overnight flights at O'Hare International Airport. The increase is being publicized by Chicago's Fly Quiet program, and organized effort established last year to help reduce noise at the world's busiest airport.

The article notes that the Fly Quiet program reported a near 12 percent increase in nighttime flights during the first three months of 1998 compared to the same period a year ago. The article clarifies also however, that overall operations at O'Hare--day and night flights combined--rose by 1 percent in the same period, according to Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the city Department of Aviation.

According to the article, airline officials state that increased demand for more early-morning and late-night cargo and passenger flights is fueling the additional nighttime takeoffs and landings.

The hours of 9:15 p.m. to 6:45 a.m. is the only period not governed by the Federal Aviation Administration's high-density rule, which mandates that O'Hare limit its landings and departures to 155 an hour.

The findings of the Fly Quiet program add credibility to the complaints generated from suburban residents who say that noise levels are increasing.

Noise complaints to the city escalated at the same time the overnight flights increased. Evelyn Genisio, whose Arlington Heights condo is about 8 miles from the airport, is quoted saying, "It wakes you up with the windows closed."

Complaints to the city Aviation Department's noise hot line during the first three months of this year soared to 6,316, compared with 424 in the same period a year earlier.

The publicity that accompanied the launching of the Fly Quiet program in mid-1997 did give the hot line renewed attention in 1988, but the hot line has actually been in service for years.

According to the article, city officials cautioned that naming a trend in figures for three months would not be an accurate finding but did acknowledge that overnight flights and complaints were up. Overnight flight figures for the second quarter, which ended June 30, were not available from the city at the time the article was published.

The city's Aviation Commissioner, Mary Rose Loney, is quoted in the article saying, "We're working to achieve a higher level of compatibility between the airport and its surrounding communities while balancing the terrific economic growth that O'Hare provides in jobs and income for the region."

According to the article, Memphis-based Federal Express is the third-busiest airline/cargo carrier during O'Hare's overnight hours. Jess Bunn, a spokesperson for Federal Express, reported a 10.5 percent increase in cargo shipments from O'Hare this year over the same period in 1997. The article also refers to a city report that says Federal Express flew an average of 19 flights a night in and out of O'Hare between January and March of 1998, as compared to 15 a year earlier.

Airport Councils International, an association of the world's largest airports, reports that overall cargo shipments at O'Hare were up 11.2 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period in 1997.

According to the article, airline officials also note that passengers are demanding more O'Hare flights that extend into the overnight hours as they travel for business and pleasure. Most overnight flights, the article said, are domestic and international passenger flights.

United Airlines, the largest passenger carrier at O'Hare, averaged 66 flights a night during the first quarter, up from 57 in the first three months of 1997, according to the report.

According to the article the increase for all airline overnight flights is about 25 to 38 more flights a night for all airlines. The most critical hours for noise complaints, the article said, was from 10 to 11 p.m. and 6 to 7 a.m., the so called "shoulder hours." The article stated that there was an average of 18 flights during the shoulder hours.

The biggest increase measure according to the city's figures was within the first quarter with a 35 percent increase in flights between 11 p.m. and midnight.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has pledged to lower the volume at O'Hare. Reducing noise during the shoulder hours has been the main focus of the city-suburban O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission - a group formed by Daley. The group has urged airlines to avoid overnight flights using the noisier Stage II aircraft and encouraged them to use flight paths that avoid residential areas.

In April, the noise commission won a commitment from United to phase out its Stage II aircraft ahead of the federally mandated deadline of January 2000. Since that agreement, United has averaged no more than 11 operations a night with Stage II aircraft, four fewer than the maximum it pledged in April, said United spokesman Joseph Hopkins.

Of the 29 carriers that fly in and out of O'Hare from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., United, American Airlines and Federal Express account for more than half of the flights.

The article says the city report indicates that more than 25 percent of the aircraft used by United and Federal Express during those hours of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. have the noisier, older Stage II engines. About 3 percent of the aircraft used by American Airlines during those same hours have the older engines.

According to the article O'Hare officials downplayed the findings in the report regarding shoulder hours. Key efforts by the Noise Compatibility Commission took place after the period of time covered by the new city report, including the deal with United according to Loney.

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Meeting Will Hear Out Neighbors' Grievances About Noise From Ohio’s Port Columbus Airport

PUBLICATION: The Columbus Dispatch
DATE: August 3, 1998
SECTION: News , Pg. 5B
BYLINE: Lornet Turnbull
DATELINE: Columbus, Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a workshop will take place to allow neighbors to air their grievances about sound noise from nearby Port Columbus Airport. According to the article these workshops are periodically scheduled as a part of the noise compatibility program and are necessary if airports are to receive Federal Aviation Administration funds for noise abatement.

The article announces that Port Columbus will host its second such workshop this year between 4:30 and 8 p.m., Aug. 11, at Brentnell Elementary School, 1270 Brentnell Ave. The workshop will also be the venue for Port Columbus to accept comments on its proposed master plan - a 20-year growth plan that includes the possibility of a new or expanded terminal and a third runway.

According to the article, improvements are tied to activity level. About 3.3 million passengers a year now fly into Port Columbus. When the number of people landing at the airport reaches 4.5 million to 5 million a year, a new terminal would be necessary, the article said, referring to Meleski's comments.

The FAA must accept the master plan and must approve the noise compatibility program, the article said.

According to Meleski, the airport receives neighbors' noise complaints about 300 times a year. The article outlines several factors that Meleski says has decreased aircraft noise. First, "[t]he newer aircraft are much quieter than the older generation. For those who continue to live in the noise sensitive areas, they're seeing more planes than they were 10 years ago, but they are quieter," the paper said, quoting Meleski. Second, Port Columbus has used federal noise abatement funds to acquire homes and to move families from neighborhoods around the airport. About 270 homes have been sound-proofed. Finally, a grant in federal funds of $500,000 will be used to put in place a state-of-the-art monitoring system that will track, record and pinpoint airplane noise.

The article quotes one resident, Linda Ridihalgh, who lives in the flight path west of Port Columbus who, after 26 years, had considered the roar of planes taking off and landing at Port Columbus an unchangeable aspect of life. "Our conversations on the patio are interrupted when a plane goes by. But noise at the airport always seemed like something that was out of my control," the paper said, quoting Ridihalgh. She said it's good to know the process exists.

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New Steel Plant Annoys Neighbors near Montpelier, Iowa

PUBLICATION: Associated Press
DATE: August 3, 1998
SECTION: Metro Iowa Pg.4
DATELINE: Montpelier, Iowa

The Des Moines Register reports that a new steel plant in Montpelier, Iowa is trying to reach full production while maintaining air pollution standards -and it's annoying many neighbors.

"I was out the other night around 2:30 with my dogs, and it [the drone from the plant] was so loud it drummed out the crickets and frog sounds. Those are pretty loud sounds by themselves out here in the country," the article said, quoting neighbor Beverly Harper, who raises llamas, horses and donkeys on 10 acres just east of the plant.

According to the article the new $375 million dollar steel plant, called Ipsco, Inc., is projected to produce 1.3 million tons of steel a year by making flat-rolled steel from scrap. It is located on 2,200 acres 12 miles northeast of Muscatine and about 1 1/2 miles north of unincorporated Montpelier. So far the Canadian plant has been experiencing troublesome construction delays, the article said.

A spokesperson for the company, Anne Parker, is noted saying that the plant was at 50 percent of capacity this past May and June. "We're gradually bringing (production) up higher and higher," Parker was quoted saying.

The article says the plant came to the area when Iowa offered $73 million in incentives for Ipsco to build the facility. Harper and other neighbors initially became anxious about the effect of the plant on the local environment, which has abundant wildlife such as deer, bobcats and turkeys.

The neighbors took action May 1997 when Ipsco started drawing 1,600 gallons of water per minute from an underground aquifer to make test batches of steel. Fifty neighbors complained that it was causing their wells to dry up, prompting Ipsco to pay to lower the well pumps or drill new wells.

Neighbors were also concerned the discharge from the plant would be dumped into a nearby creek. Ipsco reportedly relented and agreed to use the Mississippi River for its water needs.

According to the article the most recent complaint is over noise. A fan in the plant's so-called "bag house," is reportedly the source of the problem. Dust and other emissions are collected as part of the air pollution system in the bag house and the fan. According to Ipsco, the bag house is needed to maintain air quality. Not running the fan at full speed, Ipsco said, would draw the attention of state and federal environmental officials.

The article notes that Al Stokes, administrator of the Environmental Protection Division for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said there are no local or state regulations governing noise.

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Police May Be Able To Slap Fines on Drivers with Loud Car Stereos Under Bethlehem’s Newly Proposed City Ordinance

PUBLICATION: The Morning Call
DATE: August 3, 1998
SECTION: Bethlehem, Pg. B1
BYLINE: Matt Assad
DATELINE: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

The Morning Call reports that local police in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania may soon be in pursuit after drivers using high-wattage car stereos. The police will be able to slap hefty fines on noisemakers if the mayor is successful in getting the new city ordinance passed.

According to the article, a string of complaints from people who claim to have ringing ears and shaking windows, prompted Cunningham to present the ordinance making excessive noise unlawful.

The article quotes resident Bernard Bankowski, "It's like thunder. Sometimes they come at 1:30 or 2 a.m. It's enough to knock you out of bed."

Cunningham's aim, the article states, is to improve the quality of life. "Everyone has the right to listen to music," the article said quoting Cunningham, "But they don't have the right to bother other people with it. It's a quality of life issue."

According to the article the city has an existing nuisance ordinance that prohibits "unnecessary noise," but the law according to city solicitor Joseph Leeson is reportedly so vague that it cannot stand up to appeal, making it difficult to enforce.

Legislators in other communities such as Allentown and Easton, have created noise laws which set decibel levels and requirements based on zoning districts and the time of day.

Bethlehem officials say at some point, music becomes noise, and its time to identify that point and create a law to keep people from crossing over it, the article reported. Some city officials are now wrestling with the problem of just where should that line be drawn.

Industrial zones must be allowed to have higher noise levels, the article notes but questions, "But how high?" Should decibels levels in city parks be allowed to be higher than in residential zones? What about Musikfest? What about band practice at local schools?"

The article suggests that the difficulty of these questions may be indicated by the ten pages of regulations included with Allentown's 1996 noise ordinance addressing everything from sound levels to variances to exemptions to enforcement.

According to the article the law includes 10-decibel limits to be applied, depending on the time of day and zoning district with penalties reaching as high as $1,000 and 30 days in jail.

The article notes, however, that under the proposed ordinance police would have to comb the city with electronic sound meters, and try to figure out which zoning district they are in so they can determine whether the acceptable decibel level is 57 or 77. Contemplating this thought is discomforting to Police Commissioner Eugene Learn. Learn is quoted saying, "The Allentown law sounds a little extreme. I'm not sure if we want to get into anything that complicated."

Learn reportedly agrees, however, the existing ordinance is difficult to enforce and usually incapable of withstanding appeals.

The mayor's customer services assistant, Hector Nemes, the man who has been fielding most of the complaints, believes a simplified ordinance that addresses the city's problems may be the solution.

"To this point, every complaint has been about car stereos. Maybe we could start with a narrow ordinance limiting noise from car stereos and see how that works." the article said, quoting Nemes.

More than a dozen residents who have complained to city officials have pushing them to see that problem is real. The noise is not just an overflow of sound from the cars of music lovers. It's a competition by neighborhood youths who purposely point their high-powered speakers out the windows in an effort to send their sound as far as possible, according to Bankowski.

The louder the car, the cooler the driver, the article speculated.

Mayor Cunningham is decidedly in support of those suffering from the noise, "The number of complaints we've gotten about this is unbelievable. Something has to be done," the article said quoting Cunningham.

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Gloucester Resident is Fed Up with Industry's Nighttime Noise and Absence of Nighttime Enforcement Officers in Canada

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: August 3, 1998
SECTION: City; Letters; Pg. B5
BYLINE: Sherri Carty
DATELINE: Gloucester, Canada

The Ottawa Citizen published an editorial from a resident of Sawmill Creek Housing Co-operative in Gloucester, Canada. The editorialist is fed up with the nighttime noise of 18-wheelers and forklifts loading and backing up at the nearby Dicom Express courier company. She claims hundreds of years of Common Law jurisprudence has established that although property owners have the right to enjoy their property to the fullest, they are not entitled to inconvenience others in the process. According to her letter, the City of Gloucester has the responsibility of enforcing the noise bylaw but the bylaw officers do not work at night. The letter reads as follows:

As a resident of Sawmill Creek Housing Co-operative, I feel I must respond to the letter that Dicom's landlord, Brenda McMurtry of Mic Mac Realty Ltd., wrote ("Dicom noise problem is Gloucester's fault," July 27) in which she laid all blame for the current situation at the feet of others.

I feel that a lot of mistakes have been made with regard to this noise problem. One was that our land was zoned residential. The second was that Mic Mac Reality has known for 15 years that noise is a problem for the tenants they allow to lease their building and land. Perhaps if they had taken on some responsibility to ensure that their tenants were aware of the local noise bylaw -- which does not allow work to be carried on between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. -- this problem could have been eliminated. Dicom is aware of the noise bylaws but continues to knowingly and stubbornly ignore them.

All we are asking is that Dicom operate during the day or, failing that, take some measures to reduce the noise to acceptable decibel levels, which to date has not been done. (So much for their goal of being congenial towards the area residents.) We have tried to meet with all the parties involved to try to solve the noise problem but, alas, Dicom's representative did not bother to show up.

Dicom Express is by nature a courier type company, and thus they are well aware of the noise that the 18- wheelers and forklifts create during loading and backing up. I am sure that Dicom was aware of the schedule they would have to keep, so they should have looked for property that was not zoned so close to residential land. That would have allowed them to avoid this whole mess.

I would also like to note that on the infrequent occasions when residents have gone to Dicom to express their frustration over the total lack of respect Dicom's employees have towards our community, the police have refused to charge these residents though Dicom employees have wanted them to. Dicom Express employees react with contempt to our phone calls to please quiet down. Several residents have been told rudely to go call the police. Dicom's employees know that the police are unable to do anything. It is the City of Gloucester's responsibility to enforce the noise bylaw. The bylaw officers do not work at night.

Hundreds of years of Common Law jurisprudence has made one thing perfectly clear: While property owners have the right to enjoy their property to the fullest, they are not entitled to inconvenience others in the process.

Not only is Dicom inconveniencing many families (who also pay taxes, thank you) but they are also in violation of the law. Their right to carry on business ends at my right to a good night's sleep.

Perhaps the employees at Dicom and their landlord would care to spend a week in my home. Their tune would change, but quick.

One last question: If no one is willing to enforce a noise bylaw, why did city council bother to put the bylaw in place?

Sherri Carty, Sawmill Creek,

housing co-operative member, Gloucester

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Soundproofing Plan for New Orleans International Airport Comes to a Halt

PUBLICATION: The Times-Picayune
DATE: August 3, 1998
SECTION: Metro; Pg. B1
BYLINE: Matt Scallan Kenner Bureau
DATELINE: New Orleans, Louisiana

The Times-Picayune reports that the soundproofing program for residential areas near New Orleans International Airport in Louisiana has come to a halt while airport officials negotiate with project architects.

According to the article the Aviation Board made a decision to limit architects' fees for the project to $3,700 per home. As a result the architects asked the airport to narrow the scope of the work, said David Williams, the airport's construction contractor. Williams is quoted saying, "We'd like to think that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, but I can't give you a date on when we will resolve this."

The article describes the program as a 10-year effort to reduce the amount of jet noise that affects residential areas near the airport. The project was intended to reach 1,800 homes. Eighty percent of the project's cost - $40 million dollars - is being paid by the airlines in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Aviation Board awarded the contract of $526,000 to a partnership of Billes-Manning Architects and Jones Payne Architects.

The 1,800 homes in the noise abatement area will receive investments of up to $25,000 in each home for improvements such as double-paned windows, sturdier doors, insulation and, in some cases, central air-conditioning systems. Homeowners receiving these benefits must, in return, give up their right to sue the airport because of jet noise. The first 100 homes to be refurbished are located to the north and east of the airport.

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Jet Ski Operators Claimed to be the Source of Safety Problems

PUBLICATION: The Boston Herald
DATE: August 2, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. 019
BYLINE: Jack Sullivan
DATELINE: Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Herald reports that jet skis, though considered extremely dangerous by detractors, may not be as much of a threat as they have been perceived to be. The article claims that Jet Ski related accidents comprise only two of the 140 boat-related deaths in Massachusetts since 1987 even though jet ski ownership is on the rise.

According to the article jet skis comprised just 1.2 percent of the total number of boats registered in 1994. Now, more than 5,000 jet skis plane Massachusetts waters, making up a total of 4 percent of all registered boats.

The article notes that detractors consider the jet ski operated by wild teenagers with little or no experience, "extremely dangerous" and "a threat to all things marine." The article quotes Gail Prescott, a neighbor whose home is located just across from the South River in the Scituate's Third Cliff area saying, "(They are) disruptive because of the noise" and a "conservation hazard." Prescott was particularily bothered by the conduct of the operators as well and was quoted saying, "The jet skiers were aggressive, sassy and not respectful."

The article indicates the safety hazard originates with the operator. "A lot of people who have them know nothing about boats. They drive them like a motorcycle on water," the article said quoting a recent Scituate visitor from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

"That may be the rub. Because of the noise and the perception of people who own and ride jet skis, people look at them the way many for years have looked at Harley riders," the author of the article said.

The article points out that jet ski operators have been subject to boating regulations and rules, and they must follow a series of rules, for example, prohibiting anyone younger than 16 from driving a jet ski, or operating them after dark.

The article also indicates that on a national level jet skis are being banished from public waterways. The Washington State Supreme Court upheld a ban on personal watercraft in San Juan County last week, the article said. The National Parks Service announced a proposal to forbid jet skis which would affect Cape Cod National Seashore in Orleans.

According to the article, more than 1 million jet skis are in operation around the country with sales averaging about 250,000 per year. "The industry is claiming (an owner) is a person who is fairly well-to-do, middle-aged, responsible, and that's been increasing. But it's an activity that is attractive to young people," the article notes, quoting Lt. Larry Chenier, supervisor for the Environmental Police Boats and Recreational Vehicle Safety Bureau. The price of jet skis - about $2,000 for a used one, and up to $8,000 for a new machine - makes them accessible to many.

The article further reiterates its point by quoting environmental police Maj. Phil McMahon. "[Jet Skis] are the fastest-growing marine vessel across the nation. It won't become very dangerous unless you have the reckless approach of a negligent operator."

A study released last year by the National Transportation Safety Board makes the "reckless approach" of some drivers of particular concern. The study showed a total of 26 fatalities in 1993, a number that rose to 83 last year. The study found, most significantly, that the cause of death, was not drowning but death from blunt trauma.

Massachusets estimates that jet ski accidents in 1997 comprised 10.5 percent of all boating accidents despite being just 4 percent of registered boats. But the actual number of jet ski accidents last year was just seven, with five resulting in injuries, none fatal, the article states, noting that the statistics can be deceiving.

The problem lies with drivers who don't know how to operate the machines or won't handle them responsibly, the article says referencing McMahon's statements.

The article highlights issue by noting how one jet ski operator, Derek Stones, 27, states that he has been riding jet skis with his friends in a respectful and careful manner since his youth in Ireland. "If there's anybody in the boats, we don't go near them. I never had any accidents with them." the article said, quoting Stones.

A fisherman casting near Stones, however, is noting saying that jet skiers do cause problems, creating high-speed wakes and noise. He is reportedly never said anything to the jet ski operators, however. "There's a gang of them. There's me. I'm not going to confront them."

The paper also published statistics in graphic form from Lee Ann Jacob of the Massachusetts Environmental Police with a caption reading: "Personal watercraft (PWC), commonly known as jet skis, comprise a small minority of the boats registered in Massachusetts. Despite their small numbers, they have accounted for a significant percentage of reported boating accidents across the state." The following statistics regarding PWCs over the last four years correspond to the years: 1994 1995 1996 and 1997.

PWC accidents: 7 11 5 9 % of total boat accidents and 10.5% 11.5% 10% 19% % of total boats registered 1.2% 2% 3% 4%;

Accidents involving injuries: 5 (70%) 8 (75%) 4 (80%) 5 (56%);

Collisions: 7 (100%) 9 (80%) 4 (80%) 9 (100%); and

PWC vs. PWC 2 4 1 1

A photo included with the article is captioned, "Troubled Waters?" and pictures Tim Rose, 30, fishing at the boat landing in Dorchester and Derek Stones, 27, riding his jet ski in the distance.

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Population Growth Results in Increased Noise in Warren County, Ohio

PUBLICATION: The Dayton Daily News
DATE: August 2, 1998
SECTION: Extra!, Pg. 1B
BYLINE: Joann Rouse
DATELINE: Warren County, Ohio

The Dayton Daily News reports that recent population growth in rural Warren County has evolved into increased noise pollution.

Blaring horns, thumping stereos and late-night party hoots are more commonplace now that the community has grown over the last six to seven years. Assistant Police Chief Robert Hawley is noted estimating a growth from about 8,000 to 13,000 residents. "And the more people, the more noise, especially in the newer multi-story complexes. In the summertime, there's even more noise. Kids aren't in school and people are outside more," the article said quoting Hawley.

According to the article, a variety of noise ordinances, such as loud cars, horns or alarms, barking or howling dogs, and peddler pitches, are minor or first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by fines beginning at $100.

But local authorities indicate that enforcing noise ordinances has always been a low priority. Local police and sheriff's officers typically respond to noise complaints by either warning the accused or leaving notes or business cards.

Sheriff Tome Ariss is noted in the article saying persons who have who've moved to rural Warren County from larger communities experience noises they are not accustomed to. In Warren County, for example, there are no ordinances saying you can't shoot on your own property. "But the new people hear that noise and call us to complain," Ariss is quoted saying.

The increased population has created significant increase in noise from domestic disputes as well, the article said, referring to comments from Springboro Police Lt. Jim Barton.

But, the article notes that the only noise prosecution in northern Warren County followed a 1991 barking dog trial in Lebanon. The barking dog trial was a jury trial that found resident Gilbert Wergowske guilty of letting his two cocker spaniels habitually annoy his neighbors. Wergowski received a suspended sentence of 10 days in jail and a fine of $100 the article said.

According to the article, the city council eliminated the section of the dog barking ordinance that granted the accused a right to a jury trial the next year. "There was talk among council that it was silly to tie up a jury for a dog barking trial," the article noted, quoting city planning director, Douglas Johnson.

In Clearcreek Township most of the noise complaints stem from rural sounds, the article said, referring to statements of Police Chief Walter McAlpin. McAlpin is quoted saying, "Most recently, we had complaints about someone using a high-pitched noise to get woodpeckers that were burrowing into houses away from the house. For a while there, we had a lot of complaints about peacocks running wild, making a really loud screeching, braying kind of noise. Yeah, we get some complaints about construction, but not too many. We try to work it out with the (builders)."

One resident, Ann Moore, 63, was mentioned in the article as having moved to the township 32 years ago when it was all rural. Through the years she has seen her street widened, a traffic light put up at the corner, the construction of the Warren County Career Center, and various housing developments near her home the article said.

The article quoted the following reflection from Moore “you always hear those trucks letting of [sic] their gas (on Route 48). I don't know what can be done about it and I'm not wanting the change, but if it happens, it happens. You gotta just go with the flow."

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Judge Finds Methanol-Powered Leaf Blowers Permissible under Los Angelesí Ordinance, Which Was Intended to Ban Use of the Machines near Residences

PUBLICATION: Los Angeles Times
DATE: August 2, 1998
SECTION: Metro; Part B; Page 1; Metro Desk
BYLINE: Daniel Yi
DATELINE: Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles Times reports that gardeners in Los Angeles, led by a Latino gardeners union, are considering conversion of their gasoline-fueled leafblowers to methanol. Such a conversion would exploit a loophole in the recent ban on gas-powered leafblowers and allow their continued use. A city judge recently dismissed a case against a gardener because he was using methanol-fueled blowers. The decision agreed with a June ruling in a similar case.

According to the article, the judge said that the Los Angeles leafblower ban specifically said gasoline must be the fuel. Methanol-fueled blowers do not violate the ordinance, technically. A representative of the Association of Latin American Gardeners of Los Angeles said "It is our way of resisting this unjust law in a legal fashion."

The article notes that a councilwoman who supported the ordinance's passage plans to meet with city attorneys to decide whether more general fuel specifications or other language must be added in an amendment to make the ordinance work as it was intended. She thinks that users of methanol-fueled leafblowers are simply scofflaws who care nothing for others quality of life.

The article notes that the ordinance as it stands prohibits gas-fueled leafblowers from being used within 500 feet of residences. The penalty for non-compliance can reach $270.

The article reported that the ordinance passed in a 9-5 vote several months ago amidst a fierce debate. Council members argued the blowers' noise and pollution disturbed many residents. Gardeners said that they needed the blowers, even staging a hunger strike on City Hall's steps in protest. While the ban passed, penalties were lessened.

According to the article, the day after the judge essentially exempted methanol-fueled blowers, the city said that in addition to police, the Bureau of Street Maintenance and the Building and Safety Department could issue citations. City officials haven't decided whether to appeal the decision, saying that methanol and other fuels were never considered while the ordinance was being created.

The article said that the lawyer for the gardeners who had their citations dismissed is representing several similar cases, and says that gardeners using methanol-fueled blowers will continue to get off unless the ban is amended.

The article notes that the gardeners association wants the city to base violations on noise and pollution instead of the blower that is used. Meanwhile, they are telling their members that converting to methanol fuel is advisable. So far, 20 of the 1,000 member association have been ticketed while hundreds have been warned.

The article notes that a state law that is pending, which would ban bans on leafblowers, would make the argument irrelevant. That law would impose some noise limits but would allow gas-powered leafblowers.

The article notes that one gardeners said that electric blowers are too noisy and aren't a's efficient as gas-fueled blowers.

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Expected Increase in Air Travel Seen as Justification for Airport Expansion and Development in Southern California

PUBLICATION: Sacramento Bee
DATE: August 2, 1998
SECTION: Main News; Pg. A1
BYLINE: Laura Mecoy
DATELINE: Los Angeles
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Hermosa Beach Mayor Sam Edgerton, opponent of Los Angeles International Airport expansion; Wayne Rayfield, El Toro airport opponent

The Sacramento Bee reports that air traffic in Southern California is expected to double over the next 20 years. Plans are in the works for both (1) expansion at the Los Angeles International Airport and for (2) development of a new airport at Orange County’s El Toro Maine Corp Air Station after it closes next year. The anger of residents is being waged against both plans. And seventy-five (75) million travelers are caught in the middle.

According to the article the number of air passengers is expected to grow 157.4 million annually by 2020. Of that number, 26.9 million, will have to go to airports outside the area if residents opposed to the project get their way.

The article says expansion of the Los Angeles airport would, according to Jack Driscoll, Executive Director of Los Angeles World Airports, create 367,000 new jobs, provide a $37 billion boost to the local economy and create the "greenest, cleanest, least noisiest airport in an urban setting" by 2015.

On the other hand, the article notes that residents and others opposed to the expansion claim expansion will depress surrounding property values and worsen traffic congestion, air pollution and aircraft noise. This place will be like Queens, N.Y., if we let them get away with this. It will kill this (area's) economy," the article said, quoting Hermosa Beach Mayor Sam Edgerton .

But travelers, the article claims, find the expansion plans enticing. The article recounts for illustration the story of a traveler who encountered a 15 minute wait for rental car company. The Los Angeles International's expansion could change all that, the article notes, because the plans call for a rental car companies to be closer to the terminals and a “’people mover’ to whisk passengers to their rental cars, other terminals and the nearest transit station.”

The plans also call for a new road which would connect Los Angeles International Airport to nearby freeways and a new terminal for the next generation of larger jets.

The road could ease traffic congestion proponents say. Others such as Los Angeles City Council woman Ruth Galanter, are skeptical of such claims. (The growth of Los Angeles airport passengers per year after all is expected to go from 60.1 million to 98 million by 2020.)

According to the article, Galanter is urging construction of a new airport in Palmdale, where Los Angeles has landing rights at Air Force Plant 42 and 17,700 acres. An initiative to allow county residents to vote on Palmdale airport was reportedly proposed by county Supervisor Mike Antonovich. According to City Manager Bob Toone, Palmdale would love to get a new airport but the airlines won't move to a community that's 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

The article also points out that lawsuits, air pollution problems and the size of facilities have limited Southern California airports' growth, and will not allow for merely shifting of passengers and cargo to other airports, as suggested by other opponents.

The article discusses Burbank airport, as an example. Burbank already has nine lawsuits against it, and it's fighting to get court permission to build a new terminal to replace the 68 year old one, the article said. (The Federal Aviation Administration reportedly said it is too close to the runway.) It quotes Burbank spokesman Sean McCarthy saying, “The terminal is being held hostage because the city of Burbank wants caps and curfews on flights."

Ontario International Airport is another illustration used in the newsarticle. It just opened a new terminal, but the California Air Resources Board's current restrictions allow just 125,000 commercial flights a year.

Orange County’s John Wayne Airport is similarily restricted. According to the article, a 1985 court agreement with its neighbors limits the number of passengers to a maximum of 8.4 million a year and restricts aircraft noise and hours of operation. The agreement expires in 2005, but will continue to be restricted because there isn’t enough land to accommodate international flights, according to its spokeswoman Kathleen Campini Chambers.

All the mentioned examples are reportedly reasons the Orange County Board of Supervisors decided to build an international airport at the El Toro Marine base.

That decision, the article notes, has pitted southern Orange County residents living near El Toro against northern Orange County residents near John Wayne airport.

Wayne Rayfield, an opponent of the proposed El Toro Marine base is quoted saying, “The people who want the new airport live in Newport Beach, and they're concerned there will be more noise problems from John Wayne when the restrictions go away in 2005."

But according to the article Orange County Supervisor Charles V. Smith said the new airport is a good deal because the federal government is giving the county the Marine base. The article quotes Smith saying, "This is a gift from the federal government we can't let pass by."

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Virginia Speedway May Be in Business by March 1999 unless Neighbors Can Bring the Project to a Halt

PUBLICATION: The Virginian-Pilot
DATE: August 2, 1998
SECTION: Local, Pg. B1
BYLINE: by Lewis Krauskopf
DATELINE: Chesapeake, Virginia
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Manette C. Britt, president of the Dock Landing Neighborhood Civic League; David Walkup, Co-chairman, Members of Citizens Against the Racetrack

The Virginian-Pilot reports that promoters of a Motorsports Speedway in Chesapeake want to build a half-mile oval track and stadium in Chesapeake, Virginia. Plans for a motor racetrack have been tossed around the Chesapeake-Suffolk line the past four years.

If the Chesapeake City Council approves the proposal by September the track could be built in time for the next season. The proposal is expected to go before the planning commission August 12, 1998.

Developers say the speedway would be the first of its kind in the area and would lead to a major hotel, an office complex and restaurants. As many as 8,500 fans per race and $1.1 million in annual taxes are expected by developers. "This isn't just a racetrack," the article notes, quoting John C. Holland, whose family owns the land. "Without the racetrack there won't be these other sites."

Residents from surrounding Western Branch neighborhoods see the track as incompatible with their quiet neighborhoods. They fear the track will bring unwanted noise, traffic and air pollution and result in lower property values. The article quotes one opponent, Manette C. Britt, president of the Dock Landing Neighborhood Civic League, who said, "There are services for the residents. This is not one of them.”

According to the article the project was presented to residents and to the planning commissioners this past week by racetrack promoter Joe Baldacci and property owner John Holland.

The article frames the question at stake as follows: “Will needed revenue and the creation of the sports complex come at too high a cost to quality of life?” The article summarizes the positions and responses of two planning commissioners to this question.

According to the article Planning Chairman Rodney L. Foster responds in the negative. Foster is quoted saying, "I like the idea and the concept, and I like the location. There are a lot of pluses and positives that can result from this if everyone can look at it with an open mind."

Commissioner Thomas T. Winborne is noted saying he is concerned about the noise and plans to gauge noise around Southside Speedway in Richmond and Langley Speedway in Hampton before deciding. The article indicates that he was thinking positively about the track and quotes him saying, "I think the project could have some real advantages for Chesapeake. This is, from what I've seen so far, a good location for this kind of facility.”

Background information reveals that promoter Joe Baldacci, had originally considered a site just across the Suffolk line. Baldacci reportedly won approval from the Suffolk City Council and prevailed in a subsequent court battle with a grass-roots group called Citizens Against the Racetrack. His plans nevertheless failed when his conditional use permit expired. Baldacci also said Suffolk would not come through with promised improvements. He later tried to secure about 50 acres of Holland’s Ye Old Mill Farm. That site also failed when the citizens' opposition has persisted across the city line.

Last July, the track promoters did a sound check for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. About six NASCAR vehicles roared on and off for about a half-hour. Promoters hailed it as a success most residents, however, said the test run was inconclusive.

According to the article civic leaders will discuss the racetrack prior to the Planning Commission meeting on August 12. Civic leaders indicated to the reporter of the article that they have nothing against racing. “It's that the track would be in their neck of the woods that scares them,” the paper wrote. Toni Fogel, president of the David’s Mill Civic League indicated, "We have race fans that live in this neighborhood. And they don't want it here, and that speaks volumes to me."

Lee Gibboney, president of the Joffiff Woods Civic League, was quoted saying, “It just doesn't fit well into Western Branch. You're taking an area that's residential and putting in something of this magnitude. It just doesn't fit."

According to the article, the track would hold races involving limited stock, grand stock, pure stock and late-model cars - just below the top NASCAR level and comparable to those at Southside and Langley racetracks. Races on the track are projected to run 28 weekends from March to September. Five races would run each Friday, beginning between 7 and 8 p.m., and some Saturdays, with an average attendance of about 3,000, the article said, referring to Baldacci’s statements.

In addition to the races there would be practice time Thursdays from about 4 p.m. until dusk and occasionally on other days, for one to 10 vehicles.

The article states that Holland conveyed that the track could be used as a site for some of the city's festivals - such as the Chesapeake Jubilee and the Scottish Festival - and as a free Chesapeake City Park for other events. The paper indicated Holland said he had already received strong interest from developers wanting to build a Sheraton or Hilton hotel and convention center on the site. But construction of the hotel and any other development hinges on the fate of the track, the paper said referring to Holland’s words. The paper further elaborated on Holland’s statements to clarify that neither the track nor the other projects would take city funds or “taxpayers’ money”.

The land is currently zoned for agricultural use and requires a conditional use permit to build a track, the article said. Holland reported that his family would continue to own the land and sign a 66-year lease with Baldacci and his partners. "If the track is approved, we'll go back to zoning for other sites. Otherwise, it's a hog farm," Holland said.

David Walkup, co-chairman for Members of Citizens Against the Racetrack said his group worked tirelessly to raise $ 21,000 to finance their three-year lawsuit, to defeat the track in Suffolk. The paper quotes Walkup saying, "In Chesapeake, it's a better situation because the City Council seems more responsive to citizens than in Suffolk. I hope we don't need to get into it to the extent we did last time."

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New Noise Ordinance Widely Endorsed at Knoxville City Council Workshop

PUBLICATION: Knoxville News-Sentinel
DATE: August 7, 1998
SECTION: A Section; Pg. A2
BYLINE: Jim Balloch
DATELINE: Knoxville, Tennessee

The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that Knoxville's newly proposed noise ordinance was widely endorsed by a variety of individuals and groups at a recent City Council workshop.

According to the vice mayor the second reading could be delayed beyond Tuesday night's council meeting in order to do some "fine tuning."

The article quotes Vice Mayor Jack Sharp saying, "It appears that some council members are not completely happy" with every aspect of the proposal, "but I can't say until Monday if enough of them would want to (postpone it) further."

According to the article the measure was approved on the first reading, and requires a second reading before it can become law.

Councilpersons Danny Mayfield and Larry Cox are among those who have raised questions about the law's effect on noises from church services. Assistant City Attorney Ron Mills said he would draft language to provide additional protection to bells and chimes played at churches. "Things like that are things we need to address on the front end, not on the back end," the paper said quoting Councilperson Cox.

According to the article, a committee had drafted the ordinance only after studying similar laws in 16 other cities. The committee, according to facilitator, Rose Dawn, hoped that a position of noise control officer would be established to help enforce the law,

Several citizens and representatives of groups, including the Council of Involved Neighborhoods endorse the proposal.

"You will be doing Knoxville a big favor by approving this," the article said quoting Susan Key. Key was noted as one who has suffered noise problems from neighboring businesses when her antique shop was located in the Old City several years ago. "To do anything less would be uncivilized," the paper said continuing its quote from Key.

Different types of noise are regulated differently under the proposed ordinance. Specific decibel levels apply to specific types of noise, and levels must be measured at specific distances in certain cases.

Deputy Police Chief Bob Coker said if approved the new ordinance would require his department to purchase both equipment and training for police officers who need to use the equipment.

"The first time a case comes to court, the very first thing (an officer) is going to be asked is about (his or her) training or competency," the article said quoting Coker.

Other business of the council concerning aboveground storage tanks for aviation gasoline and jet fuel was also discussed in the article.

The article includes the author's phone number and EMAIL address: 423-521-1829 or

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Mayor in Pontiac, Illinois Must Decide Whether Bar Violated City's Liquor Code When Its Loud Music Disturbed Next-door Neighbors

PUBLICATION: The Pantagraph
DATE: August 5, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. A2
BYLINE: M.k. Guetersloh
DATELINE: Pontiac, Illinois

The Pantagraph reports that the mayor of Pontiac, Illinois will decide whether a local bar violated the city's noise ordinance when it played loud music disturbing its neighbors.

According to the article the complaints came from a couple, Michael and Diane Pawlowski. When they moved into the upstairs of the downtown Fairbury building, they never expected to have a restaurant and bar as a next door neighbor.

An attorney representing the owners of the bar, called Benchwarmers Pub, is reported to have argued the liquor business is just right for the neighborhood.

According to the article Benchwarmers opened June 29 and the Pawlowskis filed reports on June 30, July 7 and 12.

Their three complaints were the subject of the liquor hearing. Since the city's mayor is also the city's liquor commissioner, he conducted the hearing and will decide whether the business disturbed the peace.

The article reports that the Pawlowskis said at the hearing that they don't want to see Benchwarmers leave but they do want business owners Dave Johansen and Troy Quinley to keep the music down after 10 p.m.

Michael Pawlowski is quoted saying, "You can play 'Name That Tune' in any room of our home. The ordinance is designed to ensure the peace and quiet of the neighborhood and I believe a solution exists."

Diane Pawlowski reportedly said that the couple has had to move out of their bedroom which shares a wall with Benchwarmers into the guest room of their apartment and have only gotten nine nights of sleep since June 29. "Is it OK to sacrifice two people in Fairbury?" the paper said quoting Diane Pawlowski.

Tom Sheilds, the attorney for Benchwarmers Pub, took a different tact. He argued that the city's liquor ordinance, which regulates conduct and noise at licensed establishments, is irrelevant because noise levels are going to be loud in a business district. The article quotes him saying, "How do you disturb the peace and quiet of a commercial neighborhood? What standards have the owners (of the bar) violated? We are talking about a commercially zoned area not a residential area. The same neighborhood standards to not apply for each area."

According to the article Mayor Roberts Walter will decide whether Benchwarmers is in violation of the city's liquor code within the next five days.

The article includes a photograph of Michael and Diane Pawlowski and Benchwarmers Pub.

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Editorialist Decides Ice Cream Truck Noise Permissible in Spite of Its Extreme Annoyance to Young Parents

PUBLICATION: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DATE: August 5, 1998
SECTION: Metro, Pg. S-2
BYLINE: Mary Niederberger
DATELINE: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published the following editorial in which the editorialist imagines the enforcement of Pittsburgh's new noise ordinance against ice cream trucks in the suburbs. The editorialist resolves that ice cream truck noise should be tolerated despite its extreme annoyance to parents of young children.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Onorato has sponsored an ordinance to combat urban noise pollution. It calls for car owners who blare music louder than 68 decibels to be fined $300 per offense and to have their cars booted if they receive repeated fines and don't pay.

It's an interesting way to fight noise pollution in the city.

I say it could be even more interesting if brought to the suburbs.

There might not be complaints of loud car stereos in South Hills neighborhoods. But there is at least one offender of the peace, someone who is loved and hated at the same time: Chuck and his ice cream trucks.

I'd probably be run out of the neighborhood by most of the kids if I admitted I chuckle at the thought of the bright orange boots being slapped on Chuck's fleet.

I don't know how loud 68 decibels is. But I would bet that Chuck's music is as loud as any teen's stereo on Mount Washington. Granted, the ice cream trucks don't go up and down the same street for hours at a time.

But they do come at naptime and at bedtime and at meal time and at all times in between that parents might find inconvenient.

Don't get me wrong. I can remember being a child on a hot summer day, hearing the sound of the approaching ice cream truck and dashing inside to ask for change for a cool treat. For those of us in the Baldwin neighborhood where I grew up, the ice cream man was the biggest deal of the day.

But, with almost the same fervor I loved to hear the sounds of the ice cream truck as a child, I've grown to hate the sound of the music from the truck that comes through the Bethel Park neighborhood where I'm raising my kids.

The issue really isn't new. I can remember as a young reporter covering the South Hills in the mid-1980s writing about Upper St. Clair's efforts to silence Chuck by going to court. At the time, I have to admit, I thought the folks in Upper St. Clair were overreacting a bit when they complained about the inconvenience and annoyance of the blaring music.

Actually, I think I may have called them snobs, believing it more a class issue than a noise issue.

Boy, did I live to eat those words.

About a half-dozen years later, when I was home caring for a toddler and an infant, it seemed that as soon as the weather got warm, every afternoon, just as I got my kids down for a nap and started to look forward to the one hour of daily peace I had come to count on, one of Chuck's trucks would come blaring through the neighborhood.

My daughter, who was not quite 3 at that time, would pop up out of bed at the music, declaring that her nap was over and she was ready for some ice cream. Within minutes, the baby would be awake too.

I tried everything to drown out the sound. On hot days I would run the air conditioner at frigid temperatures just to try to keep it on long enough to let the truck pass. When it was too cool to run the air conditioner, I would plug in fans just outside their bedroom doors, hoping the motors would muffle the music from the trucks.

Nothing worked.

One day, out of frustration, I tore through the phone book to get Chuck's number and called him.

"Do you realize that it's naptime and your truck is belting out music in my neighborhood? Why are you doing this to me?" I wailed into the phone.

Chuck's response was something along the lines that the trucks had to be somewhere at naptime, so what was a fella to do?

"Would you like it better if he came at dinner time?" he asked. Other mothers, he pointed out, had that problem.

This is an insane argument, I thought to myself, one that I won't win. Despite that, I continued.

"Why do you have to play music so loud that it wakes up my two kids from their naps? Isn't there some other quieter way that your guys could let the kids know they are here?" I asked.

In a quick change of the subject, Chuck pointed out to me that the guy driving the truck through my neighborhood also was the parent of two young children. He was just trying to make a living so his kids could eat too. What did I have against him?

I was consumed with guilt at this point. Now, I had the nutrition of the ice cream man's two kids on my conscience. I got off the phone and gave up the argument.

Somehow we got through that summer. And, in all fairness to Chuck, his truck did start to vary the times it came through the neighborhood.

Now my kids, ages 8 and 5, have long since given up naps. But they haven't given up the ice cream man.

Every time they hear his music - and see me grumbling under my breath they ask if they can have some ice cream. (For some reason, the ice cream from that truck always tastes so much better to my kids than anything we have in the freezer.)

And, every once in a while, on a good day, I say yes, and we enjoy a tradition that I remember from my youth: Buying ice cream at curb side, then sitting and eating it on the front steps, letting the drips serve as dessert for the ants.

I guess there are some things we just shouldn't mess with no matter how annoying they can be.

Mary Niederberger is a guest columnist.

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