UPDATED: Special town meeting voters on Monday followed a recommendation to "pass over" a proposal to adopt a new bylaw on unwanted noise. Selectmen had asked town meeting to do so, saying it needs more work.
Noise complaints are made frequently to Milford police, typically at least once a weekend, more so in the summer months at night.
The barrage of complaints helped to inspire a bylaw that would prohibit various nuisance noises, including late-night , unduly loud music, loud construction equipment during certain hours, and many other things that generally create a nuisance for immediate neighbors.
But in a meeting Oct. 17, Milford selectmen decided to recommend the measure be "passed over" at, deciding it needed a little fine-tuning to not overly restrict people who have legitimate reasons for making noise.
Selectman Bill Buckley cited people who need to clear snow, for example, with devices that might be noisy.
The measure remains on the warrant for tonight's meeting, but will have a recommendation from selectmen for deferral. could take it up, but in practice, if a sponsor asks for a measure to be deferred, voters usually follow that recommendation.
The proposal, drafted by Town Counsel Gerald Moody, would 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 proposal, based on noise bylaws used in other communities, would:
- Prevent people from playing radios, TVs, musical instruments and 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.
- Prohibit the playing of drums, horns or other instruments at such a level 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.
- Prohibit 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.
Exemptions include police and fire apparatus, highway department activities and any activity that has a permit and a purpose, such as a marching band practicing outdoors.
Dino DeBartolomeis, chairman of the selectmen, favors the bylaw as written and felt it was good to go. In three meetings he's had with neighborhood constituents, he said, they were "100 percent in favor of it."
"The sooner we have this implemented, the better we'll be able to address the [issues] affecting neighborhoods," he said. "... This is a tool that allows our police department to work with people."
Brian Murray agreed: "I know our police department uses discretion," he said. "I don't have any real problem in going forward."
Buckley, who asked for the measure to be passed over, said it was close, but he wanted to see some exemptions beefed up for legitimate noises. "I think we're close, I don't think we're there."