Noise News for Week of November 8, 1998

Noisy Leaf Blowers Replace Quiet Rakes in Suburban United States

PUBLICATION: The Boston Globe
DATE: November 14, 1998
SECTION: Living; Pg. C1
BYLINE: Joseph P. Kahn
DATELINE: Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Globe reports the noisy leaf blower has taken its place alongside the snow blower and ride-on lawn mover as tools of modern suburban living outside Boston, Massachusetts, and throughout the United States.

According to the article, praise their efficiency or curse their nuisance potential, power leaf blowers are everywhere in the suburbs where it seems neighbors care more about aesthetics than ethics when it comes to leaf removal. In more upscale neighborhoods, yard workers wear the backpack blowers; in less affluent neighborhoods, homeowners strap on the power packs themselves. Virtually everywhere, the rake has disappeared. On a recent morning in Wellesley, two residents, Rich and Phil were busily leaf blowing in their respective front yards. Rich was using a $50 electric blower, although he said they "stink" compared with more powerful gas-powered blowers, which are also costlier ($80 to $130) and more polluting, not to mention cordless. But Rich said, "It saves time, sure." Phil, a retired engineer, stopped blowing leaves around his 10,000-square-foot lot long enough to show off his 12-amp Toro combination leaf blower and vacuum unit. "I used to rake, but it got too hard on my hands and knees," Phil said, laboring to be heard above the whine of the Toro. "This is better," he added. "This is progress."

The article states not everyone agrees that leaf blowers represent progress. Sales of blowers have grown steadily over the past few years, from 75,000 units in 1985 to 464,000 in '87, 800,000 in '89 and more than a million units today. Since they were introduced to the market in the 1970s, leaf blowers have created a Luddite-like backlash in scores of communities across the nation. Carmel, Calif., was the first city to ban blowers, in 1974. To date more than 300 municipalities have followed suit, from Santa Monica to Greenwich, Conn. A California public relations executive posted a treatise on "leaf-blower terrorism" on the Internet, likening the machines to ghetto blasters and off-road motorcycles. Despite recent improvements in noise reduction - older-model gas blowers registered upwards of 110 decibels - power blowers make their presence felt wherever and however they are used. During practice last year, New England Patriots coach Pete Carroll revved up a pair of leaf blowers to simulate crowd noise in Denver's Mile High Stadium.

The article states Newton and Brookline are among the local towns that ban the use of blowers before 8 a.m. And in Newton, it's 9:30 a.m. on weekends. Captain Peter Scott of the Brookline Police says his officers receive few complaints about leaf blowers. "Landscapers around here know the rules, and those that don't know them learn in a hurry," says Scott. Usually a first-time complaint results in a warning. After that, it's a $50 fine. "Most people are reasonable," Scott says. "They want to get along with their neighbors. Although my personal opinion is, they should rake leaves. By hand."

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Growth Brings Noise to Ohio Township, Including Din from Church Gatherings

PUBLICATION: The Cincinnati Enquirer
DATE: November 14, 1998
SECTION: Metro, Pg. B03
BYLINE: Sheila Mclaughlin
DATELINE: Hamilton Township, Ohio

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports officials and residents of Hamilton Township, Ohio, are considering the merits of a noise ordinance in the wake of complaints about late-night noise from teen gatherings at a local church.

According to the article, the racket from the outside teen gatherings at Fellowship Baptist Church this autumn has been so loud, 73-year-old Charles Hill would seek refuge in his barn to get away from it. "It was horrible, absolutely horrible. It just knocks you right out of your living room," said his wife, Marge, 67. That nighttime clatter - the beating drums, honking horns, and loud music - comes from an event designed to keep teens from carousing after high school football games, Pastor Gary Stringer said. Despite good intentions, the complaint has put the Hills and church officials on opposing sides and forced town officials into a debate about whether the township needs a noise ordinance. "I don't know if it's time or not. It is something we are looking at. The fact is, the more we grow the more complaints we're going to get," said Clyde Baston, president of the township trustee board. "The church is trying to do a fantastic thing by keeping the kids there. It's just like everything else. As growth comes, there's going to be different complaints," Baston said. Hamilton Township has grown significantly since1990, with its population more than doubling to about 13,000.

The article reports township police are collecting copies of ordinances to see what, if anything, should be done in Hamilton Township, Mr. Baston said. Police Chief Gene Duvelius thinks a noise restriction would increase work for his officers and bog down the courts. Existing laws could be invoked to prohibit disturbing the peace, he said. "You can legislate and law yourself to no end. It's a lot easier if people get along and have a little understanding," he said. Complaints about the outside church youth activities are few. At least one other resident besides the Hills - who live and operate an antiques business across the street - has called police, he said. Mrs. Hill believes regulating noise is the answer to her problem. "I'm in favor of a noise ordinance. We don't want the events stopped. We want the kids to enjoy it and have a place to go. It's just the music," Mrs. Hill said. The Rev. Stringer said he has tried to solve the Hills' concerns by moving the band so the music is directed toward an open field, and by placing an inflatable game for kids near the front of the parking lot to buffer the noise. To shut down the event any earlier would defeat its purpose, and the church does not have the room indoors, he said. The Rev. Stringer opposes a noise ordinance. "I'm not aware of any need for such an ordinance. If it was considered, it would have to take into account all these things. Personally, I don't think people in our community would want this shut down," he said.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

While Chicago Chamber of Commerce Pushes Growth at O'Hare, Citizens' Groups Stress Noise and Environmental Impacts

PUBLICATION: Chicago Sun-Times
DATE: November 10, 1998
SECTION: Nws; Pg. 1
BYLINE: Becky Beaupre
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Mark Fowler, executive director of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission; Craig Johnson, mayor of Elk Grove Village and member of the anti-expansion Suburban O'Hare Commission.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the Chicago region could lose billions of dollars in economic activity if O'Hare Airport is not allowed to expand according to a report commissioned by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

According to the article, the study by the consultant firm Booz Allen & Hamilton Inc. is intended to view the contentious O'Hare expansion issue from a business perspective. The report stresses growth opportunities for Chicago's airport system, particularly in international travel. "There isn't any other economic engine that can come close to what that airport system can produce," said Jerry Roper, chamber president and CEO. The report concludes that the region stands to lose as much as $10 billion annually by 2015 if the airport is not allowed to grow. Much of that would be concentrated in the O'Hare vicinity, where the effects would be "devastating," according to the study.

The article reports an executive summary of the report also calls plans for a third airport in Peotone "flawed." It said that in cities where second, more distant airports were built, passengers have preferred to use the existing, more convenient airport. "Chicago, or any city, can have only one world-class hub," the report reads. "Chicago and Illinois need to decide whether O'Hare is Chicago's hub for the future and invest in making it as strong as possible." But Roper said the extensive page report is less black and white on the third airport issue. "We never meant to paint this as anti-Peotone," he said.

The article states members of suburban airport groups have already expressed concern about the report's conclusions. "I think it underestimates the noise impact," said Mark Fowler, executive director of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, which was briefed on the report Friday. "What they're proposing is economically good for the business community but not for residents." Roper agreed that noise and other environmental issues need to be considered. But "I don't think it should outweigh the economic benefits," he said. "I think they all need to be considered at the same time."

The article goes on to say other suburban mayors rejected the claim that billions of dollars could be lost. "It's fear tactics," said Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson, a member of the anti-expansion Suburban O'Hare Commission. Although Johnson said he doesn't doubt a potential economic loss, he said he doesn't believe it would be that costly. He also said the better alternative is to build a third airport. "No matter what they say, they can't fit" more flights at O'Hare, he said. Johnson said O'Hare should not take advantage of potential growth in international traffic by increasing flights at O'Hare. "If they want to convert the flights now to international and transfer domestic flights to another hub, that's fine," he said. "But expansion cannot occur."

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Officials of Richfield, MN, and MAC Disagree Over Significance of Previously Unreleased Noise Study of New Runway at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

PUBLICATION: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
DATE: November 14, 1998
BYLINE: Laurie Blake; Robert Whereatt
DATELINE: Richfield, Minnesota

The Star Tribune reports the city of Richfield, Minnesota, charges the Metropolitan Airports Commission withheld a noise study report that held information favorable to Richfield's efforts to secure state and federal noise mitigation funds to address low-frequency noise from a proposed new runway at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

According to the article, Richfield officials have accused the MAC of failing to give the matter of low-frequency rumbling noise from the planned north-south runway serious study. The MAC has maintained it has found no scientific way to measure the low-frequency noise. Richfield officials now say the MAC's failure to release a consultant's report on noise in areas of Richfield, south Minneapolis and Bloomington was a disservice in the debate over the issue. In a message to the governor, Richfield Mayor Martin Kirsch wrote: "Currently, thousands of residents of Minneapolis and Bloomington are completely unaware that their homes will be severely impacted by a new kind of noise - the rumbling, vibration and rattling caused by the operations of the new runway. They are unaware because MAC has been telling city, state and federal officials that it did not know the impacts of low-frequency noise on residents near [the new runway]," Kirsch said.

The article reports in the final environmental impact statement for the new runway, the MAC lists low-frequency noise as an "unresolved issue." The impact statement says, "The proposed [new runway], when operational, could create low-frequency noise and vibration at the levels that could cause annoyance by residents in the eastern part of the city of Richfield. There are no standards or criteria for determining potential effects of low-frequency noise and vibration on annoyance and therefore no basis for determining what type of mitigation would be appropriate. MAC is committed to study this issue further and work with Richfield and [the Federal Aviation Administration] to develop and implement a plan to address any adverse impacts that are identified." But recently released documents show that the noise consultants had offered to: - Take noise readings to outline the areas affected by low-frequency noise at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport; - Recommend impact criteria for low-frequency noise; - Identify potential measures to mitigate impacts of low-frequency noise on residential properties.

The article states this was just the kind of information Richfield has been seeking on the issue, according to City Manager Prosser. "If they wanted to really take a look at what the noise impact is going to be, clearly they could have finished the study," he said. Finney defended the MAC's decision to stop the study. "Given that there were no health and welfare or activity interference effects, we did not feel it was necessary to carry the analysis beyond that," he said. He added that there also was "no agreed upon way to measure low-frequency noise and no agreed criteria as to what was acceptable or not acceptable." Prosser said that without a finding that the low-frequency noise represents an environmental impact, it will be difficult for the city to get state or federal money for efforts at mitigating the effects of such noise. Because the runway will be built 1,200 feet from the east side of Richfield and carry 300 flights per day, with vibration expected to last 45 seconds per flight, "we know that it is at least an issue that should be discussed and addressed in the environmental impact statement," he said. Kirsch called on the governor to urge his appointees to the Environmental Quality Board to consider this information when the board meets Wednesday. That day, the board is expected to decide whether MAC has adequately reviewed the environmental impacts from the new runway. The runway must have approval from the board before construction can proceed.

According to the article, using the Minnesota Data Practices Act, Richfield discovered that the MAC had hired a noise consultant who mapped the areas in which residents might notice the low rumbling that jets will make as they land and roll to take off on the new runway, scheduled to open in 2003. MAC did not include the map or the reports of the noise consultant in the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the runway because the consultant determined that low-frequency noise would not have an adverse affect on health or interfere with everyday activities, said Nigel Finney, MAC deputy executive director for planning and environment. "We thought that this issue did not rise to the level of a significant environmental impact that had to be addressed in the EIS," Finney said. Asked if the MAC makes a practice of keeping its reports to itself, Finney said: "During the seven, eight, nine years of the dual track [study of the airport's future], there were a number of issues that people raised. We took a look at them and made a determination as to whether they were significant issues. We did not publish and circulate to the world all of that information. When you do something and it comes to a conclusion that there is not much impact, a lot of that doesn't get bound and sent out to the world."

The article reports Airports Commissioner Steve Cramer of Minneapolis said the MAC staff should be asked to explain why the material was not entered into the larger public discussion. But he said he would be surprised if the low-frequency noise impact area is not part of the residential areas already scheduled for soundproofing. Given that, Cramer said, the only information he's interested in is whether the soundproofing can be modified in some way to take care of the effects of low-frequency noise. "Let's learn all we can about the characteristics of low-frequency noise and adjust our insulation package . . . if that's technically feasible," Cramer said. But low-frequency noise does not equate to, 'Let's wipe out block after block of housing.' The problem I have with the Richfield position is that they are using low-frequency noise as a lever to gain resources to redevelop 10 or 15 percent of their community." Richfield has proposed redeveloping hundreds of properties near the proposed runway and is seeking aid to do so.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Business Reps. Convince Madison, WI, Commission to Reject Noise Ordinance

PUBLICATION: Wisconsin State Journal
DATE: November 13, 1998
SECTION: Local/Wisconsin, Pg. 6C
BYLINE: Marv Balousek
DATELINE: Madison, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the Madison, Wisconsin, Economic Development Commission rejected a proposed noise ordinance Thursday.

According to the article, James Mohrbacher, chairman, said the commission voted unanimously to oppose the ordinance that would tighten the city's noise standards. Business owners spoke against the proposal in July at a hearing sponsored by the Plan Commission. Mohrbacher said business owners objected because the ordinance would apply to currently established businesses. He said the decibel level was too restrictive and the procedure to apply for variances was ill-defined. Under the proposal, maximum allowable noise levels of 70 to 75 decibels would have been reduced to 60 to 65 decibels in residential areas, with more reductions to follow in 2001.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

NJ Farm Market and Neighbors Close to Settling Noise Dispute

PUBLICATION: Asbury Park Press (Neptune, NJ)
DATE: November 12, 1998
BYLINE: Deborah Yaffe
DATELINE: Holmdel, New Jersey

The Asbury Park Press reports a long-running dispute between a farm market in Holmdel, New Jersey, and neighboring residents who object to noise from the business, may be close to resolution.

According to the article, the township Planning Board is expected to introduce a compromise in January to settle the matter between the A. Casola & Sons farm market and the residents of a neighboring subdivision. At Tuesday's Planning Board meeting, lawyers proposed an arrangement designed to satisfy Antonio and Kim Casola, who want to run their business; the neighbors, who want relief from noise, fumes and lights; and the township, which wants an enforceable settlement. The proposal would allow the Casolas to sell flowers, shrubs and Christmas trees in a 140,000-square-foot horseshoe bounded by the two driveways that enter their property from Route 34 - a larger retail space than the 10,000 square feet permitted under the township's farm market ordinance. In return, the Casolas would not permit customers elsewhere on their 25-acre site, except for October hayrides. They would also erect a 6-foot-high earthen berm, topped by an 8-foot-high fence, to keep noise and light away from the neighbors, whose homes back onto the Casolas' property.

The article reports Planning Board member Henry D. Ferris Jr., a member of the Township Committee, cautioned that the board must carefully spell out its conditions before approving the Casolas' application to transform their business from a temporary farm stand into a more extensive retail farm market. Nearby residents fear that without careful monitoring, the Casolas' business will gradually expand, said attorney James H. Gorman, who represents some of the neighbors. "That's my clients' concern - that it's going to creep," Gorman told the board. "They open up a barn, then 'We're just going to sell cider and doughnuts,' and then the next thing you know, it's Delicious Orchards."

The article states the dispute between the Casolas, their neighbors and the town dates back to 1996, when the couple built a barn and opened a temporary farm stand on their property. Almost immediately, neighbors began complaining about truck traffic, noisy greenhouse fans and bright lights. Eventually, the town and one of the neighbors sued, claiming the Casolas had violated the limits of their farm stand permit. In December 1996, a state Superior Court judge refused to order the Casolas to shut down their business, but he put the rest of the case on hold, because the Casolas had announced they would ask the Planning Board for site plan approval for a retail farm market.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Officials of Boston's Big Dig Respond to Noise Complaints

PUBLICATION: The Associated Press State & Local Wire
DATE: November 12, 1998
SECTION: State And Regional
DATELINE: Boston, Massachusetts

The Associated Press State & Local Wire reports it's noisy having one of the nation's largest construction projects going on in your backyard, according to residents of Boston's North End neighborhood.

According to the article, for those who have complained about the constant noise generated by the $10.8 billion "Big Dig" project, officials have announced a solution: a program to "soundproof" residential buildings by installing special thermal windows. "I think the (project) finally got its heart in step about what should be done, but it should have been done two years ago," North End activist Nancy Caruso told the Boston Herald.

The article reports in the past, officials of the gargantuan Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel project have reacted to complaints about noisy jackhammers and other construction machinery by changing work hours, or trying to muffle the machines. Recently, a noise specialist identified buildings most likely to be affected by noise at night, when much of the construction work is done to avoid tying up traffic. Now, residents of those buildings have been offered the window soundproofing in what project officials say is their first pro-active attempt to soften the impact of the worst of the noise.

The article states in addition to the windows, Big Dig officials also will limit certain types of construction activities. "You can put in the best windows, but if you're jackhammering at 3 a.m., that's not going to do much good," said Big Dig environmental planning manager Paul Stakutis.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Outdoor Amplified Music Banned on Public Property in Stuart, Florida

PUBLICATION: The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News
DATE: November 12, 1998
SECTION: Local; Pg. B1
BYLINE: Will Greenlee
DATELINE: Stuart, Florida

The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News reports a resident's complaints about noise has stopped the outdoor Sunday music in Stuart, Florida. Restaurant owners say the city's order has foiled their means of drawing business into downtown on Sundays.

According to the article, The Jolly Sailor and T.a.-verns Bar & Grill have sponsored a three-piece band to play on Sunday afternoons in hopes of attracting patrons to the area. The band, which was playing on city property between the two restaurants without a permit, has been stopped. Dr. Thomas Connelly, who lives nearby, complained to the city, saying the band makes too much noise. "My bottom line is, I want to peacefully enjoy my home on Sunday afternoons and Friday and Saturday nights," Connelly said Wednesday. But Jolly Sailor owner Bob Davis, speaking at a meeting of the Downtown Business Association, said Connelly's complaint would hurt downtown business development. Davis said if Collier approves the permit with the no-amplification provision, he will comply. But he said he still will have an amplified band playing Sunday, though it will be on his patio.

The article reports City Manager David Collier, who signed part of the permit, wrote on the review form: "No sound amplifiers, speakers or amplified musical instruments will be allowed to operate at this event." Collier said he will approve the permit request today, making sure to inform city staff that under no circumstances will amplified music be allowed. Dr. Connelly, however, said that even if the outdoor band doesn't plug in, there's still a noise problem downtown from bands that play inside restaurants. "Basically the bars want to make more money, so they get the loudest band they can and they play music as loud as they can to draw people in," he said. "Their philosophy is the louder they get it, the more they can bring in." A special events permit is required to play amplified music on public property but is not necessary for bands on private property. Connelly suggested the city adopt a noise ordinance. City Clerk Dianne O'Donnell said commissioners considered a noise ordinance in March 1997, but the issue died for lack of support.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Noise Ordinance Before Speedway, Say North Carolina County Officials

PUBLICATION: Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC)
DATE: November 11, 1998
SECTION: Local; Pg. A1
BYLINE: Julie Ball
DATELINE: Naples, North Carolina

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports officials in Henderson County, Florida, are considering a moratorium on the construction of racetracks until a noise ordinance is in place.

According to the article, Henderson County Commissioners will meet Thursday to talk about a possible moratorium on the construction of racetracks in the wake of plans for a new racetrack in Naples. Commissioners will discuss a possible moratorium on construction of any "racetracks, raceways or speedways." The proposed moratorium for 60 to 90 days would give the county time to approve a noise ordinance. Commission Chairman Bob Eklund said, "We want the noise ordinance before we talk about the speedway," he said. Commissioner Don Ward said, "I'm a big race fan, but I'm real concerned about the residents of the area and what the racetrack will do to their property values and their quality of life." Danny Jones, one of the investors interested in building the track, could not be reached for comment on what impact the moratorium would have on his plans.

The article reports Jones and three other investors want to build a racetrack on what is now farmland on Old Asheville Highway. The one-half mile track would seat 10,000 spectators. The track would provide a place for racing following the closing of the Asheville Motor Speedway. But the proposal to build a track in Naples has raised concern among residents in the community and neighboring areas. The residents say they are worried about noise from the track and traffic. Thursday's meeting was welcomed by those opposing the track. "It's excellent news," said Keith McKinney, whose family owns property in the area where the track would be located.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Avon, Ohio, to Get Noise Barriers Along Widened Section of Interstate 90

PUBLICATION: The Plain Dealer
DATE: November 10, 1998
SECTION: Metro; Pg. 4B
DATELINE: Avon, Ohio

The Plain Dealer reports Avon, Ohio, will get noise walls built along Interstate 90 next year.

According to the article, green concrete walls will be built next year to reduce noise along the widened section of Interstate 90. Avon residents were invited last year to comment on the type of sound barrier they wanted. The estimated $1.1 million project will be paid for with state and federal money. The Ohio Department of Transportation said the walls will extend from one mile west of Ohio 83 to the off-ramp for Ohio 83. The highway has been widened from two lanes to three in a project expected to be finished Nov. 30.

The article reports engineers say that without the wall, the noise level at nearby homes would increase to as high as 74.7 decibels in 20 years. With the walls, the sound level will reach a maximum of 67.4 decibels, about the level of a gas-powered lawn mower operating 50 feet away. The new lanes are to remain closed until the highway is widened in Cuyahoga County in about three years. Lorain County commissioners are urging ODOT to open the lanes sooner.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Previous week: November 1, 1998
Next week: November 15, 1998



Aircraft Noise
Amplified Noise
Effects on Wildlife/Animals
Construction Noise
Firing Ranges
Health Effects
Home Equipment and Appliances
International News
Environmental Justice
Land Use and Noise
Civil Liberty Issues
Miscellaneous Noise Stories
Noise Ordinances
Noise Organizations Mentioned
Outdoor Events
Noise in Our National Parks/Natural Areas
Residential and Community Noise
Snowmobile and ATV Noise
Research and Studies
Technological Solutions to Noise
Transportation Related Noise
Violence and Noise
Watercraft Noise
Workplace Noise

Chronological Index
Geographical Index

NPC Menu Bar NPC Home Page Ask NPC Support NPC Search the NPC Home Page NPC QuietNet NPC Resources NPC Hearing Loss and Occupational Noise Library NPC Noise News NPC Law Library NPC Library