A noise bylaw that supporters say should relieve problems in congested neighborhoods — where neighbors keep each other awake with parties, barking dogs and other intrusive noises — will go to Annual Town Meeting for a vote.
Milford Selectmen voted 2-1 to put the bylaw, on the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting. Specific exemptions are expected to be added to reflect any concerns from the town's police chief, whose officers would enforce the new rules.
Concerns have been raised about early-morning snowblowing being prohibited, for example, so an exemption could be made for homeowners trying to clear their drives and walkways.
"It's summertime now, and people want to be assured that we're moving in the right direction," said Dino DeBartolomeis, chairman.
If approved, Milford police would, for the first time, have the power to ticket people and businesses who disturb others with excessive noise. Penalties include a fine up to $300 for each violation. If the noise is made by renters, the landlord must be notified in writing that an offense has taken place.
The new bylaw is based on those used in other communities, and would:
- Prevent people from playing radios, TVs, musical instruments and other devices at a volume that would disturb "the reasonable quiet, comfort or repose" of people living or working in the vicinity.
- Ban yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling, singing or any other such noise on public streets or in public spaces between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
- Prohibit owners from keeping animals or birds that make frequent or continued noise that disturbs others.
- Give police officers the authority to make reasonable judgements about noise. The bylaw does not tie noise to a specific decibel level.
- Prohibits noise generated by construction, and other businesses, including jack hammering, use of power tools and idling of diesel trucks, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Selectman William Buckley voted against the motion to place the item on the warrant, saying he wasn't satisfied that Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin had had an opportunity to review the proposal and suggest changes.
"It is Chief O'Loughlin's department that has to enforce this," he said.
DeBartolomeis and Brian Murray, who supported it, said the details could be adjusted on the town meeting floor if need be. The noise bylaw had been expected to reach a special town meeting last October, but was shelved it could prohibit legitimate noises, including students practicing instruments, or homeowners trying to use snow clearing devices that make noise, early in the morning.
Many residents were disappointed the prohibitions didn't go forward. Murray read aloud a letter from one homeowner, who said his neighbor's frequent partying made it difficult for his young child to get to sleep on Friday nights.
"It was a mistake, Bill, not to go forward several months ago," DeBartolomeis said.