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Under proposed code, Greenport Village must quiet down by midnight

As the Greenport Village Board considers making amendments to its noise code, some are urging the trustees to take a step back and reconsider.

Trustee Peter Clarke said since last month’s public hearing, the board has received several letters from residents concerned about a proposed 85 decibel limit for commercial properties — a compromise reached early on between the village and BID officials.

Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said he’d like to move forward with the code as-is.

“We put together, I think, a pretty comprehensive code change,” he said.

He pointed out that the code should have been in place for the summer season, but faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been an unusual year,” Ms. Phillips said. “I don’t think we’ve had as many noise violations this year.”

While he agreed that noise violations will likely not be an issue as they were last summer, Mr. Clarke took issue with the decibel limit, which would be in place for commercial businesses on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to midnight.

“I’m ignorant of what 85 decibels is, really,” he said.

Current code restricts commercial noise from exceeding 58 decibels if entering residential property and 55 decibels for commercial properties between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.

“It’s going higher but it’s ending earlier,” Mayor Hubbard said. “As of midnight, you won’t have the amplified music anymore. In the past, it would go on until two or three in the morning.”

The proposed code change would prohibit music from being played outdoors, or indoors without sound buffers, between midnight and 7 a.m. and increases the fine structure for offenders.

Currently, the highest fine the village may impose is $250. The proposed change would increase the fine structure for repeat offenders to $250 for the first violation, $1,000 for the second and $2,500 for the third. Businesses would be required to obtain music permits through the village Planning Board.

Sixth Street resident Randy Wade pushed back against the 85 decibel limit, citing a list of noise readings that included a propeller plane flying over at 1,000 feet measuring at 88 decibels, diesel train traveling at 45 mph at 100 feet at 83 decibels and diesel truck traveling at 40 mph at 50 feet measuring in at 84 decibels.

“There has to be a meeting of the minds,” Ms. Wade added, between the town and village on enforcement. “We’re paying for the policemen and they need to be able to help protect us.”

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips also advocated for the board to consider who will enforce the code. “A code can be wonderful and well-written but how are we going to staff this to control it?” she asked, urging the board to table. “We only have one [code enforcement officer] and he’s already working more hours than he probably should be … it will be an expense to enforce [the code],” she said.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said Friday that the village is an “autonomous” body when it comes to zoning, building and planning matters. “Any code adopted within their authority, the town can’t enforce,” he said.

The mayor and village attorney Joseph Prokop both said the code could be further amended if needed.

It will likely be put up for a vote at Thursday’s meeting. “If we’re going to change decibel readings to a different number, that’s a major change,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We’d have to start over.”