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Bethlehem noise law tabled for review

After nearly a full calendar year, the proposed Bethlehem noise law still has a little ways to go before being drafted.

Commissioned in September 2007, the Noise Ordinance Task Force, headed by Councilman Sam Messina, recommended to the Town Board that Bethlehem go forward and create a new local noise law.

During a well-attended public hearing earlier in the year, the majority of residents spoke overwhelmingly in favor of the noise ordinance. A vocal minority did speak out, saying a noise law would be overly regulative and could be used to harass neighbors if not drafted properly.

Messina also pointed out that out of 40 e-mails the town received about a possible noise law, only two were against the ordinance.

Almost all of those were supportive of the noise ordinance, Messina said at the task force's last public meeting. "My feeling is that there is nothing left to do but to recommend this to the Town Board."

The Noise Ordinance Task Force ultimately decided to recommend to the Town Board that Bethlehem was in need of a new noise law.

"We conducted eight meetings; the meetings were very well attended," Messina told residents and the board. "This whole process could have been done in one swipe, the Town Board could have said go forth and draft an ordinance."

Instead, Messina said, the task force had been diligent and comprehensive in its research and the public has been involved in the process every step of the way.

However, after Democratic councilmen Kyle Kotary and Mark Hennessey began asking for copies of compiled information, such as the e-mails, and sought more specific information as to noise exemptions and what similar municipalities had in place, it became increasingly apparent the board was not going to vote on the recommendation that evening.

Messina said he would share all of the findings and e-mails with the board but did not have hard copies for board members that evening, which amounted to a very large stack of documents, he said.

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