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Bethlehem panel to sound out noise rules

Complaints ranging from noisy neighbors, vulgar rap music, and loud house parties are prompting Bethlehem town officials to appoint a noise ordinance task force.

Sam Messina, town board member will chair the task force appointed by supervisor Jack Cunningham to review the feasibility of passing a noise ordinance local law.

Since I have come into office, I have had residents come to me from time to time regarding a noise ordinance, said Cunningham.

A member of the Bethlehem police force, one member from the town's code enforcement department, and two members from the community will make up the noise ordinance task force.

Jennifer DeFranco, a resident of the town who said she has had problems with noisy neighbors, volunteered to serve on the task force.

"We are the only city or town with a population greater than 20,000 without a noise ordinance in the Capital District," said DeFranco.

Messina believes now is an appropriate time to revisit the issue that previous town boards have already looked into.

"This is at least worth looking at from my perspective," Messina said.

Last year, in the neighboring town of Guilderland there were 100 cases on file related to noise issues, Messina said.

"When they invoked the ordinance by sending out a letter, they had 100 percent compliance."

The town of Bethlehem had a total of 95 noise complaints in 2006 and 19 complaints of loud parties.

Board member Kyle Kotary said "full community participation" is the key to a successful noise ordinance.

"I think the idea of a task force is good," Kotary said. "It gives us the opportunity for further research."

Leath appointed town historian

Susan Leath has been named by the town board as the new historian in Bethlehem. Leath replaces Raymond C. Houghton Jr., who served as historian for the past three years before he died of cancer in the spring. Leath has been a resident of the town for the past 12 years and has served as a member of the Town Historical Association since 1995.

"I have a lot of enthusiasm about history, and I don't want it to get lost," said Leath.

Prior to her family's move to Bethlehem, Leath served as the director of the Florence Museum of Art, Science and History in Florence, S.C.

"History adds to the quality of our life," said Leath. "We should preserve it and promote it."

"She has excellent credentials, and I believe she will do an excellent job," Cunningham said.

The position of town historian pays $2,600 annually.

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