Following a Sept. 24 informational meeting concerning whether the town should adopt a noise ordinance, the Wilton Board of Selectmen on Tuesday discussed the possibility of enacting a good neighbor policy as an alternative.
First Selectman Bill Brennan said he had discussed the idea of a good neighbor policy with State Rep. Toni Boucher, who in turn agreed to research the topic using the state legislative library in Hartford.
"We are anxious to do something — because we have some residents who are having some problems," Brennan said. "At the same time, this hasn't risen to the level where the entire community is having a problem with noise."
A good neighbor policy is essentially a code of conduct for a community that is adhered to on a goodwill basis. Such policies are not necessarily limited to noise — they can set out to control other "nuisances," such as blighted properties, light pollution, trespassing, roaming dogs and actions considered "unneighborly."
Gary Gerard of Musket Ridge Road, who has had noise issues with neighboring Silvermine Golf Course, as well as with a certain neighbor's dog, expressed disappointment that the selectmen were considering a good neighbor policy as opposed to an official noise ordinance.
"I realize that based on the turnout last week, and the evidence, you probably don't want to head toward an ordinance," Gerard said. "But a good neighbor policy will not in any way affect or change the folks at Silvermine Golf Course."
Gerard said the club runs its blowers — the loudest of which registers more than 65 decibels — as early as 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
"And yet we have this little paragraph in the Planning & Zoning regulations that says we shouldn't have more noise than 55 decibels from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week — and they take full advantage of it," Gerard said. "So I assume from what I've heard here tonight that I should go to P&Z and see if we can't get that changed."
Tell us in the comments: Would you support a noise ordinance in Wilton? Do you think a noise ordinance is necessary?
Brennan told Gerard he was welcome to go to Planning & Zoning but "what I would recommend is that you have a little bit of patience here — we are considering whether we need an ordinance or we don't need an ordinance — and as with any ordinance we consider, we're doing it in a methodical and comprehensive manner."
"We don't create ordinances that last years and years unless the community need rises to a sufficient level," Brennan said. "There seems to be some differences of opinion between your complaints with the Silvermine Club and their feelings — they are very aware of your frequent complaints. What we have to decide is, what is the best way to handle this for the great majority of our citizens."
As to Gerard's complaint about his neighbor's dog, Brennan said, "where there are barking dogs, there are methods that the police can use to address that problem."
"We try to address these problems in a neighborly way and a constructive way, and not in a way that gets hostile," he added.
Brennan said the selectmen had discussed the idea of a noise ordinance with the police, "and they feel they have gotten excellent cooperation when there has been a complaint about noise levels due to parties — there has not been any issues, people turn down the noise."
Brennan said in the past year his office has received about six formal written complaints about noise.
"I got a call from a woman today who was concerned about a rooster crowing in her area," Brennan said, "and we had the police look into it, just the same way they would look into a nuisance dog that continuously howls."
Of Wilton's neighboring towns, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk and Ridgefield all have noise ordinances, whereas Darien, Redding, Weston, Westport do not.