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Southold hosts public hearing on noise ordinance

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Ruth Ann Bramson speaks at Tuesday's public hearing on Southold's noise ordinance proposal.

Southold Town may adopt its first-ever noise ordinance in two weeks, making it the last town on Long Island to regulate sound.

If adopted, the law will allow noise levels up to 65 decibels when measured at the noise-maker’s property line between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday  and between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. At all other times, noise will be limited to 50 decibels.

The board held an intense, hour-long public hearing on the proposed law Tuesday night.

At the public hearing, Ray Huntington of the Fleet’s Neck Property Owners Association in Cutchogue wondered whether the ordinance would regulate helicopter noise.

“Unfortunately, it has no bearing on helicopter noise,” said Town Supervisor Scott Russell, adding that the Federal Aviation Administration does not allow municipalities to regulate helicopter noise.

“If it’s going to be enforced against us, it should be enforced against helicopters,” said Mr. Huntington.

Ruth Ann Bramson of East Marion congratulated the board for its work on the law, which was first proposed by her community more than five years ago due to loud noise emanating from The Blue Dolphin Resort.

A woman named Maria from East Marion, who lives diagonally across from The Bue Dolphin, said tthe noise from that establishment “has totally changed my quality of life,” and has persisted since before her young son was born.

“I have to close my windows to watch TV,” she said. “We tried to work on the good neighbor thing. It didn’t work.”

She asked what the town can do to ensure that it is serious about enforcing the new law.

Mr. Russell said that the use of noise meters to gauge the noise level would ensure the law could be enforced.

“It’s not a subjective judgement call on the part of a police officer,” he said. “We wanted to remove that subjectivity.”

David Evans of Peconic commended the board for taking the issue seriously, but said that one issue was not included in the ordinance: “the uncontrolled yelping and howling of a dog.”

“If it is possible to include that I would be very grateful,” he said.

Luckily for Mr. Evans, Southold’s Town Code already addresses that issue.

“That was the one noise code we had in the town: barking dogs,” said Mr. Russell.

Mary Ann Liberatore of Orient asked what implications the code will have on wharfs and yacht clubs, citing a fishing boat in her community that starts up its motor at 4 a.m.

“I think this is a great start but I don’t think it addresses all implications,” she said.

Mr. Russell said that the town has budgeted for 11 or 12 noise meters and a road sergeant will always have a noise meter available for officers on patrol to use, as will code enforcement officers.

The law sets fines not to exceed $500 for the first offense and not to exceed $2,500 for each subsequent offense.

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