Malta Noise Ordinance 2/9
The full text of the proposal is after the jump, but I'll give you the key points here.
- Sunday construction is permitted between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, but not within 500 feet of an occupied home. Previous versions of the bill have barred Sunday construction outright, but business leaders vehemently objected to the proposal.
- You can perform Sunday construction within that 500 foot buffer zone, but only if you have the occupant's permission in writing. That seems unlikely at projects like Ellsworth Commons, which borders several residential properties. Complaints about untimely construction noise at the mixed-use development initially prompted the Town Board to re-examine the noise code.
- Construction on other days of the week would be permitted between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., the same hours during which it is currently allowed. The maximum permitted decibel levels would be 60 during those hours and 50 at all other times, also unchanged from the current code.
- The town's code enforcement officers can issue tickets. Penalties for violating the code include fines of between $100 and $500 and/or a jail term of up to 15 days, if found guilty.
- I'd wager you're going to see a slew of speakers, both town residents and business leaders, at the public hearing on March 5.
Chapter 115 of the Code of the Town of Malta – Noise
§ 115-1 Intent; Construction, Definitions.
A. It is the intent of the Town to prevent excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noises. It is further intended that the provisions and prohibitions hereinafter contained are for the purpose of preserving, protecting and promoting the public health, comfort, convenience, safety, welfare and the peace and quiet of the Town of Malta and its inhabitants.
B. This chapter shall be liberally construed so as to effectuate the purposes described above.
C. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to limit other provisions of the Code. Where one or more other provisions of the Code may address matters proscribed or controlled in this Chapter, the more restrictive shall apply. Where one or more provisions of this Chapter are addressed in a Town Local Law establishing a Planned Development District pursuant to Chapter 167, Article VII, the provisions in such legislation shall control. Where such legislation is silent, the provisions of this Chapter shall control. The Town Planning Board shall have the authority to establish specific provisions which are more restrictive than those provided in §115-2(A)(4) of this Chapter during the Site Plan Review and/or Special Use Permit application process.
D. When used in this Chapter, the following terms shall have the stated definition:
(1) “Construction Activity”- shall mean erection, including excavating; demolition; alteration; or repair of any building out of doors using any impact tools (e.g., hammers), vehicles, power tools or motors.
(2) “Motor Vehicle” – shall have the same meaning ascribed to that term in §125 of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law except that it shall also include snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles as defined or referenced therein.
§ 115-2 Unlawful acts.
A. The creation or reproduction of certain noises as defined or described below is prohibited.
(1) Horns and signaling devices: No person may sound any horn or other signal device on any Motor Vehicle more than three times in any five-minute period, while such Motor Vehicle is stationary, except as a warning of danger, and except for intrusion or theft alarms. (2) Motor Vehicles: No person shall:
(a) Operate any Motor Vehicle in such a manner as to cause noise unrelated to the safe operation of that Motor Vehicle, including but not limited to spinning or squealing of the tires, sounding of the horn for non-safety-related purposes, or revving of the engine of such Motor Vehicle.
(b) Operate or cause to be operated any recreational Motor Vehicle (including but not limited to snowmobiles, dirt bikes, personal watercraft and all-terrain vehicles) in such a manner that the sound level emitted therefrom exceeds 73 decibels at a distance of 50 feet. Where the State of New York has provided for more restrictive noise limits by law or regulation, such law or regulation shall control.1
(3) Discharge of exhaust: No person shall discharge or permit to be discharged into the open air the exhaust of any stationary internal-combustion engine (including but not limited to generators, compressors, pumps), except through a muffler or other device which will effectively prevent loud or explosive noises therefrom.
(4) Construction Activity: No person shall engage in, permit or facilitate Construction Activity, other than between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:00am to 6:00pm on Sunday. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Construction activity is not permitted on Sunday within 500’ of an occupied residential dwelling, unless approved by an occupant of said dwelling in writing.
The Town’s Code Enforcement Officer(s) may permit the temporary use of generators, pumps, or other machinery he determines to be needed to ensure that the interior or exterior construction environment is appropriately maintained and/or to protect health and safety.
(7) Sound reproduction. No person shall operate, play or permit the operation or playing of any radio, television, phonograph, drum, musical instrument, sound amplifier or similar device, which produces, reproduces or amplifies sound loudly enough for a person to be able to distinguish lyrics, words and/or instruments by a person dwelling on adjacent real property, without that person's consent.
(9) Animals: No person shall keep, permit or maintain any animal under his control that causes unnecessary noise by continued barking, howling or other animal noises in violation of § 52-1.
(10) Power tools and yard equipment: The use of leaf blowers, chain saws or wood chippers is permitted only between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m
(11) Standing Motor Vehicles: No person shall idle, operate or permit the operation between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day of any Motor Vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) in excess of 10,000 pounds, or any auxiliary equipment attached to such a vehicle, for a period longer that 30 minutes in any hour while the vehicle is stationary, for reasons other than traffic congestion or emergency, on public right-of-way or public space.
B. In addition to the foregoing prohibited activities, no person shall operate, or cause or permit to be operated, any source of sound in such a manner as to create a sound level which exceeds 50 decibels between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., or 60 decibels between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., when measured at or beyond the property boundary of an adjacent property.
(1) Measurement of sound:
(a) The measurement of noise or sound shall be made by the Enforcement Officer or his designee with a sound-level meter meeting the standards prescribed by the American National Standards Institute SI4 or an instrument with the metering characteristics and A-weighted frequency response prescribed for sound level meters.
(b) Except where otherwise prescribed, the slow meter response of the sound-level meter shall be used in order to determine that the average of three readings taken over a fifteen-minute period does not exceed the limiting sound levels set forth in this section.
(c) Measurement of noise levels shall be taken at least four feet from ground level.
(2) Compliance with noise limits is to be maintained at all elevations at the boundary of the property.
(3) For any source of sound which emits a pure tone or impulsive sound, the maximum sound-level limits set forth in Subsection B shall be reduced by five dBA.
§ 115-3 Waivers and exemptions.
A. Waivers to the limitations set forth herein may be granted by the Malta Zoning Board of Appeals upon good cause shown, taking into account the reason for the requested waiver, the proximity of residences, the nature of the noise to be created, and the duration of the requested waiver. Waivers must be made in writing, must state the basis upon which they have been granted, and their duration (which may be indefinite). All waivers may be rescinded.
B. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:
(1) The use of bells, chimes or sound amplifiers by churches, synagogues, mosques or similar houses of worship;
(2) Activities of the volunteer fire companies and emergency response organizations in the performance of their duties, drills or public demonstrations including, but not limited to, the sounding of sirens and the blowing of horns;
(3) Activities in public parks, playgrounds or public buildings under permission or authority of the Town of Malta;
(4) Fireworks, provided their use is otherwise lawful;
(5) The discharge of firearms, provided their use is otherwise lawful;
(6) Automobile Racing Facilities;
(7) The Town of Malta;
(8) Activities specifically permitted under New York State's Agriculture and Markets Law; or
(9) Construction Activities,
a. Performed by any department or agency of the Federal or New York State government; County Public Works or Sewer Departments; and/or any contractors working directly for these agencies, when working on public property or within a public way, right-of-way or easements;
b. Performed by a resident on or in connection with his residence, without the aid of hired contractors, whether or not such residence is a detached single family home;
c. Performed by a contractor entirely on the interior of a building, provided that no noise from such Construction Activity shall be audible at the location of any occupied residential dwelling property line of the property where such interior Construction Activity is being performed;
d. Occasioned by a genuine and imminent emergency, and then only to the extent necessary to prevent loss or injury to persons or property. If charged with a violation of this Chapter, the individual charged shall have the burden of proving the existence of such emergency.
§ 115-4 Penalties for offenses.
If any party shall violate the provisions of this chapter or engage in conduct in violation of this chapter, he shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 and not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both. Each incidence of any violation of a provision herein shall constitute a separate offense.
§ 115-5 Enforcement.
The provisions of this chapter may be enforced by any peace officer, or the Town's Code Enforcement Officer. It shall be the duty of the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department and the New York State Police to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
1 See,e.g., NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law 25.17(1)(e) (snowmobiles); NYS Town Law §130(17) (watercraft, Town’s may control horsepower or ban, no reference to noise).
2 See §155-2(4), above.
Until next time,