The Milford noise bylaw is now in effect, which should put a damper on the all-night, outdoor parties and other disturbances that have kept many Milford residents awake.
The state Attorney General's Office reviewed the bylaw and approved it Aug. 28.
this year, after many fed-up residents asked selectmen to do something about repeated disturbances.
For the first time, will now have authority to enforce violations, or noise disturbances, including through the possibility of arrest. The bylaw prohibits loud noises that disturb the peace, with several exemptions. Violators can be prosecuted, because violations are a misdemeanor criminal offense, according to the Attorney General's letter.
Violations of the bylaw otherwise are punishable by a fine of up to $300. If the noise doesn't stop, or is repeated for more than a half-hour after the officer first gave notice, violators can be fined for a separate offense.
Police can make arrests under the bylaw if the noise involves a "breach of the peace," happens in view of the officer, and is still continuing at the time of the arrest. Not all violations will involve this, and the Attorney General's Office advised the town to determine what circumstances would rise to this level.
"The Supreme Judicial Court has held that a breach of the peace refers to 'activities which, first, most people would find to be unreasonably disruptive, and second, did in fact infringe someone's right to be undisturbed'," the Attorney General Martha Coakley wrote.
The bylaw, called "Unlawful Noise," prohibits people from creating, continuing or allowing any "excessive, unnecessary, or unusually loud noise which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the reasonable quiet, comfort, repose or the health or safety of others within the town of Milford."
by residents who say their neighbors are not turning down music, or ending outdoor parties that last into the morning hours. The problems are most frequent in summer, when people have their windows opened.
David Nolta, a resident of Bancroft Avenue, estimates he's called police at least six or seven times a year for the past few years, including for neighbors who have parties that last until 2 or 3 in the morning. One time, a neighbor opened a garage and used the stereo on the car inside to provide the music. The people didn't hear the police siren when the police arrived, Nolta said.
"Time has a lot to do with it," said Nolta, a college professor. "Noises after one or two in the morning are upsetting."
The later the party goes on, the louder it gets. "The voices get louder, the music gets louder and then the cars start going."
Nolta said he trusts police to use discretion, and hopes the bylaw will reduce the problems.
The following acts are declared to be loud or unlawful noises:
• The playing of any radio, phonograph, television set, amplified or musical instruments, loudspeakers, tape recorder or other electronic devices "in such a manner or with volume at any time or place so as to annoy or disturb the reasonable quiet, comfort or repose" of people in homes, hotels, hospitals or offices, or "any persons in the vicinity."
• Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling, singing or the making of any other loud noises on the public streets, in a public place or in any place to which the public has a right of access, between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., or the making of any such noise at any time or place so as to annoy or disturb people.
• The keeping of any animal or bird which causes frequent or long continued noise.
• The use of any drum, horn or other instrument or device for the purpose of attracting attention by the creation of noise. This section shall not apply to any person participating in a school band, or a duly licensed parade.
Commercial activity is prohibited which will generate excessive or unreasonable noises, including:
• Operation of earth moving or other heavy vehicles or equipment, jack-hammering, use of power tools between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
• Idling of any diesel-engine-equipped vehicle that weighs more than 15,000 pounds, or equipment between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
• Construction, demolition or alteration of any building or structure, including excavation and site work, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
• Operation of any wood or brush chipper, pneumatic-powered equipment or tool, hammer, chainsaw, commercial power mower, trimmer, blower or other construction, forestry or landscape equipment between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
• The police chief may permit an extension in commercial activity hours by permit.
Exemptions to the noise bylaw include the following:
• Emergency vehicles and equipment, including police, fire, ambulance or other vehicles, and any vehicles or equipment actively engaged in snow or ice removal upon any public or private property.
• Highway and utility maintenance and construction, including necessary excavation or repair of bridges, streets, or highways.
• Public address systems. The use of amplifiers or loud speakers for public addresses, which are non-commercial in nature and otherwise operating under a permit or a license.
• Noise caused by agricultural, or farm-related or forestry-related activities, including operation of farm equipment and noises from farm animals.
• Parades and public gatherings or events, which have appropriate permits or licenses.
Motor vehicle noises prohibited:
• It will be unlawful for people to cause any unnecessary, loud, excessive or unusual noise in the operation of a motor vehicle, defined in the bylaw as audible noise 100 feet from the vehicle. This includes motorcycles.