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Bethlehem adopts noise ordinance

The Bethlehem Town Board adopted a revised Noise Abatement and Containment Ordinance at its Wednesday, Dec. 23, meeting.

The law, altered somewhat from the draft noise ordinance put before the public for comment at the Dec. 9, was passed 3-0, with Council members Joann Dawson and Kyle Kotary absent.

Among the revisions was a change in the way noise levels would be gauged " from decibels to what is known as a dBA, a measure not of sound intensity but rather how the human ear responds to that sound intensity. So the definition of unreasonable noise changed from being in excess of 75 decibels to being in excess of 65 dBAs during daytime hours.

Some exemptions were added to clarify the purpose of the law. Language was added to the ordinance to exempt land classified as being used for agriculture by the state Office of Real Property Services. Trash pick-up, paper delivery and snow removal were also exempted from the ordinance.

Town Supervisor Jack Cunningham said he had received communication regarding noise coming from wind chimes in daytime hours.

"The ordinance isn't designed to eliminate noise in the town," he said. "It's really got a specific purpose and that is to help the police to restrict noise during basically what you'd consider quiet hours, late at night, where those noises can be avoided."

Town Councilman Sam Messina questioned why the ordinance banned noise from construction between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while any other "unreasonable noise" is banned between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

"I don't know why that it's 6 a.m.," said Messina. "Because 6.am. is kind of an early start time [for construction]."

Cunningham said the reasoning behind the 6 a.m. time limit was that summer construction usually begins early to avoid the heat. One resident also pointed out that garbage pick-up is done around 6 a.m.

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