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[POLL] Should Wilton Implement a Noise Ordinance?

One Wilton resident said that his neighborhood has become noisier and noisier over the years.

Wilton should have a noise pollution ordinance.

That’s the sentiment Gary Gerard expressed at Tuesday night’s Board of Selectman meeting during the time set aside for public comment.

Gerard, who described himself as a 28-year Musket Ridge resident, stated that a number of early-morning noises on the weekend disturbed his lifestyle.

“Since 1983, Musket Ridge has become noisier,” he said. Gerard said that noise coming from "ATV vehicles" and machinery such as leaf blowers created an unrest in his neighborhood during the weekend hours as early as “a quarter to seven” a.m.

Wilton does not have noise ordinance regulations. From the town’s website: "Wilton does not regulate by ordinance noise volume or restrict the time or days for noise on either residential or commercial properties." Large-scale building projects may prove an exception to this rule, as governed by the Planning and Zoning Commission

This is something Gerard would like to see fixed. He cited towns such as Norwalk and New Canaan for having noise ordinances that are reinforced by a finable offense.

Each town varies with its noise ordinance rules. Norwalk, for example, has regulations on construction-related noise no earlier than 8 a.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday, but these appear to be related to construction-specific noise only, and do not appear to include the use of noisy household products, such as leaf blowers. 

Ridgefield has a more thorough noise ordinance, although the town allows lawn care devices to be exempt from the ordinance between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. provided that they are in adequate working condition and the noise does not reach beyond a certain decibel level. Owners of excessively noisy animals may be subject to a first-time fine of $60, as would all other persons who break the residential noise ordinance in a various number of ways.

New Canaan has an ordinance prohibiting all “motorized equipment or machinery,” “such as snow blowers, snow throwers, leaf blowers…chainsaws…and generators” to operate beyond a 45 decibel prior to 8 a.m. or later than 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and prior to 10 a.m. or later than 4 p.m. on Sundays. Fines for violating the ordinance in New Canaan begin at a minimum of $100.

“This is not a new subject," said First Selectman William Brennan, who, while appearing sympathetic, reminded the audience that a public hearing and public comment would be needed before an ordinance could pass. 

"One of the things we would do is get a broad spectrum of maybe 10 towns" to compare and assess the pros and cons of their different noise ordinances, said Brennan.

Brennan then recounted an anecdote from the past.

"I remember, someone had a rooster next door. [The crowing] sounds bucolic and nice at first, but after a while you're running around trying to put an end to this rooster," he chuckled. 

The Board agreed that they would look into the matter and solicit public opinions in the future. 

Amo Probus February 23, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Yes we need an 'anti-noise' ordinance, but only if it applies to PTA meetings.
Concernedparent February 23, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Yes...Lets face it...at one time neighbors, workmen etc were considerate of disturbing anyone with barking dogs (electric fences allow dogs to be out all day), leaf blowers..etc. We should have noise ordinances in town. If a dog barks more that 10 minutes it is considered a nuisance, by State law, and the person can be fined. This should be enforced because many small dogs are relentless barkers, and are almost as high pitched as a rooster. Same goes for other loud obnoxious sounds on the week-ends.
Keith Creveling February 23, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I don't see noise as a big problem in Wilton, but I would certainly support a "no construction or landscaping equipment before 8am rule" on Saturday and Sunday.
Phillip Maim February 23, 2012 at 04:02 PM
What bothers me far more than noise pollution is the visual pollution, on almost every street and lane in town, generated by illegal signs. Drive anywhere in town, and you'll see a myriad of illegal commercial signs...from the local painting company on a customer's lawn, the landscaper who tacked a sign on a telephone pole, or the ever-present 'like new' home-made sauna sign. It's even worse at a home doing remodeling, with every trade hawking their services, via illegal signage, on our local streets. Nearby towns, like New Canaan and Greenwich, have strict ordinances against this type of visual clutter, and it's practically non-existent. In New Canaan, for example, real estate agents cannot publicize their firms, only a phone number on a generic sign, at clients' homes. In Greenwich, realtors cannot post signage anywhere, nor can a builder or tradesman on a construction site. I don't have a problem with the temporary sign noting a high school play, or a exhibit at the library. These are non-commercial and temporary. My issue is with the business that uses any intersection of Wilton's lovely roads as its' free billboard.
Lorna February 23, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Yes, construction and landscaping noise should not be allowed before 8 a.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. on Sundays. Even though Wilton has an agricultural past, I agree that a dog barking ordinance should be enacted and enforced. All of these intrusions can negatively affect the quality of life, adding stress. I would also request that the FAA require helicopters to fly at higher altitudes. On occasion, choppers have literally rattled my windows and upset my dog (who then barked and created more noise!). And bravo, Philip, about the visual pollution. As warm weather approaches, tag sale signs will pop up like mushrooms after a summer rain. I don't have a problem with that, as long as the signs are removed promptly afterward. Too often, that's not the case.
EMR February 23, 2012 at 07:06 PM
How about telling Jeff Immelt from GE to fly his helicopter over another town at 7am. It sounds like it's landing on our roof.
Christine E. February 23, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Wilton does have a sign policy and a guy whose job it is to enforce it and mark illegally placed signs. If you want to put a sign out by the road you have to fill out an application, have a written letter from the property owner, and then you can receive a 30-day tag from the town (which is to be placed on your sign) that has the dates of which the sign is valid. If you don't see a tag on the sign, it's not there legally. If you see a bright orange ticket on the sign, that means the town has come by and marked it as an illegal sign. Just letting you know.
Lee February 24, 2012 at 12:26 AM
This is Wilton with most homes situated on 2 acre lots screened by mature trees and plantings, not some on top of your neighbor co-op on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Can't we all just get along via polite discussions with any 'offender' to work out a mutually agreeable solution without the need to introduce some new stealth tax that costs money to enforce and stipulate and no doubt will end up encroaching on basic liberties.
Craig Donofrio February 24, 2012 at 08:06 PM
For those interested, check out this article on Greenwich Patch about a recent noise ordinance proposal for a Sunday ban on leaf blowers: http://patch.com/A-rb4q I'm sure Greenwich will be one of those towns Wilton looks to when they discuss this issue in the future.
Lorna February 27, 2012 at 08:56 PM
I guess you've never had to live next door to a large dog confined outdoors nearly 24/7/365 who barked, at times, relentlessly. (BTW, I'm a dog lover and have my second rescue mutt.) Some people aren't willing to consider a "mutually agreeable solution." Unfortunately for them, the dog lashed out unprovoked and attacked a neighbor. It's a shame the animal wasn't treated like a beloved member of the family and given more attention, exercise and affection, which I had suggested in a diplomatic email. The silver lining for me is that the dog and his barking are gone.

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