Friday, December 17, 2010
Planning Board hears noise bylaw request
Ginny Lamere (374 Rutland Street) spoke with the Planning Board on December 13 and asked the board to develop a noise bylaw specifically for construction activity to be proposed as a General Bylaw at Annual Town Meeting next spring. She indicated that the Selectmen voiced their unanimous support at their December 7 meeting.
Her request was precipitated by jackhammer and hoe-ram activity on the six-lot conservation cluster called Chestnut Estates at 400 Rutland Street (Map 36, Parcels 23 and 26). The developer is Rainbow Builders of Chelmsford, MA. She said, “The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has a policy for noise but the policy has no teeth to stop developers from making excessive noise. In August DEP came to 400 Rutland Street and made measurements at the street. It was 85 dBA and my house is actually closer (to the project area) than the street.” She said that even with windows closed she had to resort to wearing ear protection in her own home. [Typical background ambient noise can range from 40 to 50 dBA. Every 3 dB increase represents a doubling of sound energy; 10 dB above ambient is considered a noise nuisance.]
John Bakewell (290 Rutland Street) said that although rock crushing related to the access road may be near completion there are still individual house foundations and utility trenches to be completed. He said that the noise can be muffled by using an enclosure around the hoe-ram.
Board Vice Chair Michael Epstein rhetorically asked the board, “How many years have you been on this board? How much development has taken place in this town? And we haven’t had this kind of problem. This guy has come into this development, and I am outraged at what he has done at that property. I don’t think he has any consideration of the way that developers typically handle themselves in this town. We should be looking at what he is doing out there and if we have to shut him down we should shut him down. We should make sure he is complying to the special permit to the ‘T’.” (See “Planning Board shorts, August 16,” August 27.)
Chair David Freedman said that he would speak with Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard about the situation, because the developer had encroached upon town conservation land by clearing land that he does not own. Freedman said, “They have the ability, I believe, to require him to fix that before doing anything else out there. They can actually shut him down.”
Since the Selectmen expressed their support, Epstein will begin discussions with Town Counsel on the topic of a noise bylaw based on advanced work done by the board assistant, Gretchen Caywood. Freedman said he was concerned about the timing of getting a proposed bylaw ready for the Annual Town Meeting. Freedman said, “We’ll have a discussion as the last agenda item on January 10 and discuss next steps.” ∆
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