At the August 27 virtual meeting of the Board of Selectmen, the Board spoke about a potential noise ordinance, gave an update on the Candlewood Islands situation, and discussed the Town’s STEAP grant application.
During the public comment portion of the meeting Board of Finance Member and current president of the New Fairfield sport shooting club, Anthony Yorio spoke on the draft of the proposed noise ordinance. He thanked the Board for making an exception in the ordinance for his club and other entities/activities with licenses or permits issued by the Town. However, he said he felt a noise ordinance would be hard to enforce, noting the special equipment required to verify decibel levels prior to issuing a warning or notice of infraction. He also noted that many of the issues that the ordinance would be trying to target might be addressed through ordinances already on the books, such as the state’s breach of the peace.
Mr. Yorio suggested discussing possible alternatives with the resident state trooper and offered his expertise as town council for several municipalities with noise ordinances to determine the best course of action. First Selectman Pat Del Monaco said she would be open to his input, particularly in what measures other towns he’s dealt with have taken to curtail excessive noise issues overnight.
Ms. Del Monaco gave an update on the closure of the islands on Candlewood Lake. She said that due to the spike in corona virus cases in Danbury, the boat launch at Lattin’s Cove has been closed and the Squantz boat launch capacity has been reduced by 50%.
At a previous meeting the Board had authorized Ms. Del Monaco to apply for a $128,205 STEAP grant on behalf of the Town of New Fairfield. The grant, if approved, would be used for Town Hall and Annex HVAC improvements. This would address ventilation deficiencies in both buildings and allow the Town to put in place COVID-19 standards required by the State for the buildings to remain open to employees and the public. Currently, the Town is making use of open windows and fans to provide ventilation, but that will change once cold weather sets in.
The Board then discussed the proposed noise ordinance draft. Selectman Kim Hanson voiced his opposition to having an ordinance. He questioned some of the decibel levels and noted some examples were vague and too broad.
Ms. Del Monaco said existing ordinances from local towns were used as a starting point.
Selectman Khris Hall stated that the purpose of proposing the noise ordinance was in response to many complaints received by the Selectmen’s office. She said they needed to have a conversation with law enforcement as to why they are hesitant or unable to enforce breach of peace. She noted that this should start a discussion on the best way to proceed, either with an ordinance or to make better use of existing ordinances.
Ms. Del Monaco indicated that she had an initial discussion with the resident state trooper about breach of the peace enforcement. She said that starting now, they will be trying to enforce that more strictly. She also said that the Town’s attorney had said that it was difficult to enforce decibel limits, and that towns with noise ordinances were looking for other ways to enforce their noise ordinances.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Thurs., Sept. 10 at 7:30pm.