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BID asks for more time to seek advice on proposed changes to Greenport’s noise code

A Feb. 25 public hearing on changes to Greenport Village’s noise code will go on as planned, but residents shouldn’t expect the board to take action just yet.

The Greenport Business Improvement District has asked for more time to weigh in and seek expert advice on noise management.

At a work session Thursday, BID director and Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. founder Richard Vandenburgh requested more time to ensure the business community is involved and their concerns are addressed.

“We want to make sure we’re not knee jerking this code in a way that’s going to create additional regulation that is not going to be enforceable, not going to be fair and not going to be a willingness to comply from businesses,” Mr. Vandenburgh said.

As written, the proposed code would set the decibel limit to 65 on commercial properties that would be in effect on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to midnight. The code also proposes a revised fine structure for repeat offenders and would require businesses to obtain a music permit from the Board of Trustees.

Over 200 business and community members have signed an online petition against the current iteration of the code, arguing that the code, as proposed, will only worsen the difficulties being felt throughout the business community because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Vandenburgh said any code passed must balance the needs of the business community, an essential part of the village’s economic health, with residents’ right to the peaceful enjoyment of the village.

He said rushing to pass an imperfect code could lead to costly legal fees for the village down the line, since businesses could face permit revocation after repeated offenses. “Businesses will be compelled to fight those actions [in court,]” Mr. Vandenburgh said.

The BID is planning to consult an Austin, Texas-based acoustic testing firm to gain a better understanding of decibel limits and current ambient noise levels in the village

“There’s a whole host of additional info that we feel very vested in bringing back to the board to allow the board to implement the code/draft that’s going to be more effective, clear and concise than the current draft of the code,” Mr. Vandenburgh said, asking for four months to conduct testing and collect data.

After some back and forth, board members ultimately agreed to hold the Feb. 25 hearing as planned, but table action on the code changes until the BID is able to report back. If substantial changes are made to the code, another public hearing will be scheduled.

Officials said next Thursday’s meeting will give residents their chance to comment on the noise proposal. Trustee Julia Robins said feedback from the public may also be helpful for the BID to consider as all sides try to reach a compromise.

“It’s been going on for a year and a half, so another six months is not going to make that big a difference,” Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said.

Citing a decline in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently extended a 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars statewide to 11 p.m. starting Feb. 14.

“That kind of sets some built-in time frames for anything that’s going on,” Mr. Vandenburgh said, though those rules are subject to change.