By Michelle Fields, Standard Correspondent
Woodstock Village Trustees once again attempted to tackle the noise ordinance but this discussion was much quieter than the last as residents in attendance spoke out in support of the changes.
“The big thing for me was the give on Friday and Saturday and the take on Sunday,” Trustee Chris Miller summarized of the changes he drafted to the ordinance.
His recommended changes include extending the hours where “normal” noise is permitted until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights but not allowing noise before 8 a.m. on Sundays. The current ordinance allows for normal noise until 10 p.m. each night and allows for the noise of lawn and grounds maintenance equipment beginning at 7 a.m. each day.
The proposed changes would also allow for outside musical performances until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Currently, the Woodstock Inn (and anyone else seeking to play music outdoors) must seek a variance to play music beyond 10 p.m. At this week’s Trustees’ meeting they sought and received approval for five outdoor music events for this summer to extend until 10:30 p.m.
“We shouldn’t be giving variances because variances should be much harder to get,” said Miller who noted that the proposed changes would cover the Inn’s needs without the continual need to seek variances.
“We need the Inn to be full in order for us to have an active, vibrant economy,” said resident and local business owner, Carolyn Kimbell in speaking in support of both the Inn’s variance request and the ordinance change. “We live in a village and there is noise and we should be able to put up with that.”
Joe DiNatale agreed, “I am in favor of it. It is part of what I love about living in the village.”
Speaking of the outdoor music functions at the Inn, Cross Street resident Ed Paige said, “I am the closest one to it and I enjoy it.”
In addition to the proposed changes in hours, other suggested changes to the noise ordinance include the prohibition of the sounding of car horns, sirens and security alarms that are not required for an emergency situation and an attempt to limit the distance at which lawn maintenance equipment noise (such as leaf blowers) can travel. One suggestion was to limit the sound to the property line.
Referring to the section about the playing of music, Miller said, “We were using that section to prohibit what the Inn was doing…I think the intention was to control boom boxes.” He suggested a change in wording to “personal mobile or portable sound-producing devices” for this section and to add outdoor musical performances as a separate item with the 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday limit.
“You have to think not of the short-term benefit but of the long term for the Village,” resident Julia Carlisle said. She also suggested that the Inn give the community (even beyond the abutters) a “heads up” about outdoor music events.
“I think that would go a long way,” she said.
These proposed changes will be discussed at next month’s Trustees’ Meeting.
Village plans to construct a retaining wall and lower the roadway along River Street at the intersection near the Elm Street bridge were derailed when it was determined that it would cost about $410,000 to separate and move Comcast’s fiber optic cables that run under the road.
“I can’t recommend that,” Swanson told Trustees. Instead Trustees will regroup on Friday to look at using the $175,000 state grant to just rebuild the retaining wall and make other minor road improvements rather than lowering the roadway to improve visibility and safety.
Trustees also agreed to move forward with a plan to replace the Village’s mercury vapor street lights with more energy efficient LED lights by applying for a grant through Efficiency Vermont.
“What we have on the 115 poles is already obsolete. They will not put them back,” said Swanson about the current lights which the Village rents from Green Mountain Power. The new LED lights will save about 49,000 kilowatt hours and almost $6,000 a year.
In other business, the Trustees approved a change in this year’s Woodstock Summerfest (formerly known as the Taste of Woodstock) to allow for music to be played until 9 p.m. on Aug. 10 with Elm Street closed from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. for the event.
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