QUEENSBURY — A nuisance ordinance may be in the works for Queensbury.
Supervisor John Strough proposed the idea in response to noise complaints.
It’s better than a noise ordinance, he argued.
“A noise ordinance — they’re very difficult to impose,” Strough said. “You need a decibel meter. It must be calibrated. The person must be trained.”
A nuisance ordinance is “much more enforceable,” he added. “It can answer the noise issues as well as some of the other issues.”
It is a more subjective law, in which law enforcement considers whether someone’s actions are disturbing other residents’ quality of life. The law typically describes specific actions, ranging from noise to litter, that could be considered a nuisance. In some jurisdictions, it has been criticized for including penalties to landlords if residents call 911 too often, which can discourage some people from reporting domestic violence and other crimes.
Resident Travis Whitehead asked for a noise ordinance at last Monday’s Town Board meeting, citing concerns with a proposed wood pellet manufacturer. Seaton Property Holdings has asked for permission to convert logs into pellets in an indoor facility on 5 acres, rather than the 100 acres normally required.
Town law does allow pellet manufacturers to use just 5 acres if the process occurs indoors. But some neighbors said they were worried about the noise. Whitehead said the indoor facility might be a “reasonable idea,” but only if the town had a way to react if the facility turns out to be noisy.
“If you don’t put in a noise ordinance first, you have no business” making decisions about the proposal, he said.
Resident Tom Ross also asked for some way to enforce peace and quiet.
“Noise ordinance, nuisance ordinance — I don’t care what you call it,” he said. “We badly need it.”
The complaints come just after the fireworks season, which Strough acknowledged had turned into a disaster.
Only small fireworks are allowed, but the fireworks boxes often are not marked by size and law enforcement officers don’t always know which fireworks are legal, he said.
“It was sold to us as sparklers and pop,” Strough said. “It’s become so much worse than that.”
Warren County voted to allow small fireworks around the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. In theory, the decision earns the county sales tax revenue — many fireworks vendors set up tents to sell fireworks before the two holidays.
But Strough said he regrets voting for it now.
“I think something needs to be done,” he said.
Some counties have voted to return to the fireworks ban, in response to residents’ complaints about the noise. It cannot be banned by a town. Only the counties have the authority to make the decision.