Some additional residents told West Brandywine Township supervisors their feelings on the proposed noise ordinance.
The ordinance limits noise to 65 decibels weekdays between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and on Friday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. A noise reduction of 15 decibels would be standard from Monday through Thursday after 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. and Friday through Sunday after 10 p.m. in all residential districts. Louder noise in all other residential zoning areas would be permitted, but would require those zoning areas to be quieter after 7 p.m.
Its aim is to reduce consistent noise disturbances over long periods of time. According to the proposed ordinance "each person in the community is entitled to live in an environment in which the level of noise is minimized for the community good." Township officials have encouraged neighbors to work out noise issues among themselves, but feel as though the township has become more suburbanized. With neighbors living in closer proximity, the board feels this ordinance is needed.
Resident Greg Tyson told the board he is against having any noise ordinance. Tyson said he has a neighbor who is a constant complainer. He stated he and his son shoot and this neighbor complains often to the police. Tyson said, "It's getting ridiculous." Tyson said he had polled his neighbors, and they are against having this noise ordinance as well.
"I believe in my rights," Tyson said.
Tyson agrees with resident, Celine Marrow, who at the last Board of Supervisors meeting, stated the dirt bike her son rides on their 1.5 acre property was no louder than a lawn mower and should be considered normal noise. She stated a neighbor approached her with information on the proposed noise ordinance. Marrow said at the time she and her husband had moved to West Brandywine so that her son could practice riding his dirt bike because he rides competitively. At the time, the board had suggested going to the neighbor to work out a compromise. That perhaps one to two hours per day between certain hours would be permissible with the neighbor who feels bothered by the noise. Another solution for the dirt bike's noise is to get a special muffler to stifle the sound. For the complaining neighbor, it is the consistent, extended noise over long periods of time that is the issue.
Noel Suskin said he is currently working on a noise reduction project in Tinicum Township caused by Philadelphia International Airport. Suskin said for this project, if the 60 decibel level is reached at the front door to any home, the house is eligible for noise remediation at the airport's expense. He believed the township requiring noise reduction under the 60 decibel number is a reasonable and attainable level.
Wendy Suskin said she is sensitive to noise and wants the township to pass the noise ordinance. In a separate incident, she also has seen and heard dirt bikes on the old railroad trail early on Sunday mornings behind her home.
"I would support it (the ordinance)," she said.
Township residents Jeff and Lisa Chalfont last winter had requested the board to consider voting on a noise ordinance. They had complained about a neighbor's successive pool parties occurring almost every weekend throughout the summer. The Chalfonts claim a neighbor's parties have started early in the afternoon and have gone on late into the night.
The Chalfonts notified the police on those occasions. Police Chief Walt Werner said current township ordinances were insufficient because their road, in which their home sits, is considered private property. Werner had stated without a noise ordinance, the police department would now use nuisance ordinances, and those were only "enforceable on public property." Werner said the noise ordinance would work for private property also.
Jeff Chalfont had supplied the township with at least four ordinances for the board's review.
He had stated he hoped the township would be able to use some portion or combine parts of other township noise ordinances as a solution.
Chalfont's neighbor, John Hertz, whose home Chalfont complained about, attended the April board of supervisors meeting. He did receive a copy of the proposed noise ordinance. He was not in attendance at May's meeting.
At Thursday's meeting, Jeff Chalfont said, "The proposed ordinance is right in line with other municipalities that have noise ordinances. Those other ordinances ranged between 60 and 65 decibels. Chalfont said, "I'm assuming they (the ordinances) are all the same because they work."
Chalfont's other neighbor, Cynthia Watts, stated she was also in favor of the ordinance. She said the constant barrage of noise is impacting her life. Watts said, "It's frustrating. You can't leave windows open. It (the noise) infringes on my rights."
Resident Chip Clavier asked about hunting disturbances at night. Board members asked where he resided and Clavier said they were coming from the Volmecke farm. Board members explained those shooting noises would not be handled and would be permitted as an allowable exception. Supervisor Tom McCaffrey said the Deer had been eating the crops and agricultural noise allowances had been designed within the proposed ordinance. They had suggested Clavier speak with the Volmecke family on the issue.
The discussion on the proposed noise ordinance will continue. The township will have taken decibel meter readings at the Community Day celebration on May 6 so the board of supervisors would have a clearer understanding of the significance of each decibel level. The board could vote on the proposed noise ordinance as early as the next board of supervisors meeting on May 18.