Noise Ordinance Violations

New York City Noise Ordinance Violations at Construction Sites

New York State’s Department of Environmental Protection has begun enforcing the law regarding noise ordinance violations, particularly when it comes to construction noise in Manhattan. The latest noise mitigation guidelines, in effect since July 2008, are the first changes to New York State noise ordinances in more than 30 years and call for noise abatement solutions to be applied to construction equipment operating within earshot of New York City’s general public (Section 28-101 – Required Noise Mitigation Measures for General Construction).

The ordinance demands noise abatement or sound blocking material at every construction site within New York City. As it applies to City construction sites, the law requires each construction site to be equipped with sound abatement fencing material that meets a Sound Transmission Class (STC) of 30 or higher.

Manhattan Man Successfully Sues Noisy Construction Company

Mike Edison, a resident of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, could no longer endure the noise being made by the construction company building a new high rise across the street. After speaking with representatives from the company and getting no results, he decided to take the company to small claims court…and won.

To learn more click the link below to read the entire story on the CBS affiliates website:

Noise Ordinance Violations

Acoustical Fencing

Where a construction fence is in place, (Section 28-107 Perimeter Noise Barriers) compliance can be met by installing AcoustiFence 1/8-inch (3mm) thick sound deadening material. Measuring 6-feet (1.82 meters) high by 30-feet (9.14 meters) long with mounting grommets along the top and bottom edge for easy attachment to any chain link fence or other framework. AcoustiFence, when installed properly, can bring construction sites within the City into compliance by meeting he 30 STC noise barrier rating.

Additionally, the ordinance requires construction fencing to be limited to 15-feet in height and to block the line of sight to the receptor. AcoustiFence can be used as a temporary or permanent noise barrier (Section 28-108 Temporary or Portable Noise Barriers) and is reusable, which means it can be rolled up and taken to another area of the City and re-used to meet noise ordinances anywhere a sound barrier is required. The AcoustiFence material is a proprietary viscoelastic polymer material with a high=density mineral content, heavy yet extremely flexible and impervious to mold, mildew and UV.

New Requirements

New York contractors are now required to develop noise mitigation plans before work can begin on any project and special mitigation plans must be established for particularly sensitive areas near hospitals and churches. Construction activity must be limited to the hours of 7AM to 6PM, Monday through Friday, and 10AM to 4PM on weekends, unless public safety necessitates an alternative.

Excerpted from:

New York City’s Construction Noise Ordinance: Rules of Compliance

St. Maarten’s Westin Must Pay $39,500 for Noise Ordinance Violations

The Caribbean paradise that is St. Maarten has been the focus of some pretty surprising litigation based on violations of noise ordinance laws against a Westin Hotel, owned by the Babitbay Beach Development Corporation N.V. of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. The company’s Westin Hotel in St. Maarten’s Dawn Beach was slapped with $39,500 in fines and penalties in a court ruling earlier this week after disregarding court orders to lower the decibel levels of its sewage treatment plant, which has been making life miserable for the Michael Roger family, whose home is just 260 feet away from the plant.

In a nutshell, Roger built his Dawn Beach home 20 years ago in 1992, long before the Westin Hotel happened upon the scene. In fact, the hotel wasn’t built until 2006, and its sewage treatment plant went in that same year – 260 feet away from the Roger family home. Michael Roger has been trying to get something done about the unbearable noise that reaches 90 decibels and higher resonating from the sewage treatment plant to his home ever since.

The court ruled this week, after years of contentious back and forth between Westin attorneys and Roger’s attorney, that the Westin had not lived up to an April 13 court ruling that ordered the hotel to take whatever measures were necessary to remedy the sewage treatment plant’s industrial noise pollution problem.  After six years of battling to regain some semblance of peace and quiet in his home, Mr. Roger might finally be close to achieving that goal.

The noise from the Westin sewage treatment plant, according to court documents, is deafening; so deafening that the Roger family is forced to stay inside with doors, windows and hurricane shutters closed – and even then, the noise is overbearing, according to Roger. Over the past six years, as his noise complaint snaked through the legal channels, Mr. Roger moved his home’s terrace to the opposite side of the house, and moved one of his children to a bedroom at the other end of the home because the noise was preventing the child from sleeping.

Noise Ordinance Violations

It’s not like the April 13 ruling came as a surprise to Westin owners either. In June, 2011, the court ordered an expert report on the Westin’s sewage treatment plant’s noise pollution levels. By October of last year, the report was still not completed, so Rogers contracted a civil environmental and geo-technical engineer to perform the sound levels tests on his property and the vicinity around the plant. All measurements taken proved that sound levels from the Westin sewage treatment plant continued to significantly exceed the hotel’s permitted noise limit of 50 decibels, and a second study performed by the court-appointed engineering firm confirmed the first study’s findings.

Somewhere along the line, Westin owners had a structure installed around the sewage treatment plant, and they began turning the pumps off at night, which they felt should satisfy any noise complaints. However, even with the structure in place, noise from the sewage treatment plant was recorded at 80-90 decibels, far above the 50 decibel limit they had been court ordered to establish and maintain. The World Health Organization says that exposure to decibel levels about 70 for eight or more hours per day can lead to hearing loss, high blood pressure and other serious health problems.

The Rogers family has been exposed to these noise levels daily for six years – only within the last year did the Westin begin to shut down the plant at night.

So, after years of battling in court, and after two engineering studies proved Rogers’s complaint to be valid, a St. Maartens judge on April 13 of this year ordered Westin owners once and for all to get the decibel levels down to 50 or lower, or face fines and penalties of $500 per day.

Westin attorneys never showed up to that April hearing, nor did they attend another hearing held in June, a decision that was not overlooked by the judge.

“(The absence of Westin Hotel representatives in court) makes it sufficiently clear that the Westin, even after it received the (engineer’s) reports, does not really care about its noise pollution,” the judge said.

Last month, Westin owners finally became actively involved in the legal process only after discovering that Roger had put a lien on the hotel’s bank account, a move he made to secure the hotel’s mounting fines and penalties – which by now added up to $39,500. Westin attorneys filed a lawsuit against Rogers demanding that he stop the execution of the April 13 court ruling. In last week’s summary proceedings, Westin attorneys also demanded the penalty be reduced to zero, and that Roger be forced to lift the lien on the Westin’s bank account.

Westin attorneys appeared outraged that the hotel owner was being harassed by Roger and the court, as if woken from a deep sleep and previously unaware that there was a problem at all. They had, after all, built a structure around the sewage treatment plant and they began switching the thing off at night. They felt they had done enough, despite the engineering reports that recorded noise still 30-40 decibels over the court mandated limit.

The judge was unsympathetic, and referred to video footage submitted by Roger that proved the 80-90 decibel sound levels were still permeating the area surrounding the sewage treatment plant – most specifically, Roger’s property and home. The court ruled that the Westin failed to abide by the April 13 ruling and rejected the Westin attorneys’ demands to drop the fines and penalties they had been warned about in April. It also refused to lift Rogers’s lien against the Westin’s bank account.

Further requests to mitigate the penalty were also denied.

This is not the only court-related noise problem the Dawn Beach Westin is facing either.

Last week, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) President Emil Lee won a court case against the hotel after he was banned from its premises because of pending lawsuits filed against the hotel over noise pollution caused by the Westin’s generator and its cooling towers. The court decided in Lee’s favor, ruling that the Westin cannot ban the community leader from its property.

After six years of ignoring the complaints of the Roger family and others over its noise pollution violations, Westin owners got a wake-up call straight to their proverbial wallet last week, and are finally realizing that they must comply with local noise ordinances or face serious consequences. It took extreme measures on the part of Roger, who worked through the legal channels and managed not to give up along the way.

And it took extreme measures on the part of the court as well; by refusing to lift the lien on the hotel’s bank account put in place by the neighbor it had ignored for six years, and the court’s refusal to lower the fines and penalties, the message sent to Westin owners is clear.

It will be interesting to see if the Westin drags its feet on its pending generator and cooling tower noise pollution litigation after this tough love measure by the courts.

Until very recently, most people have taken it for granted that noise ordinances are rarely (if ever) enforced, and that noise polluters could carry on without consequence, despite growing evidence of the health risks to those exposed to continuous high decibel noise. However in recent years, courts have begun ruling in favor of the rights of individuals to peace and quiet, especially in their own homes. Rogers fought for six years for this right, and won.

The craziest part is that Westin owners could have saved themselves so much money and so many headaches if it had simply installed an effective noise abatement barrier around the sewage treatment plant to begin with, instead of throwing up a structure that did nothing to lower the decibel levels. Perhaps they thought they were saving money and appeasing the court by simply appearing to comply. But with no real regard for actual soundproofing qualities in the barrier installed, and by continuously ignoring court dates and deadlines for compliance, the Westin owners dug themselves into a deep financial hole that they could have easily avoided.

Passionate Australian Couple Charged with Noise Ordinance Violations Under EPA Act