By Michelle Fields
The Woodstock Inn will continue to be able to hold outdoor weddings and events despite complaints from neighbors about the noise level.
After a packed meeting where many more people spoke in favor of the Inn’s events than against them, the Village Development Review Board approved the permit for up to 15 outdoor events for 2014 with two conditions. The first condition is the same as last year – if anyone complains about the events then the Board will hold another review next fall to consider further options. The second is that the Inn hire a third party to monitor their noise levels at each event. The DRB would get a copy of each of those reports in order to consider whether and how often the noise level exceeds the 70 decibel limit in the Village Zoning Ordinance.
The Woodstock Inn purchased decibel reading equipment this summer and recorded the sound at several of their outdoor events at the end of the summer in response to neighbors’ concerns. New President and General Manager Gary Thulander told the audience that they recorded two spikes of noise above the 70-decibel limit. One was for 56 seconds and the other for eight minutes. “These are not continual levels. They are short term peaks. We are still sensitive to that,” he said.
Thulander noted that the outdoor events generate $1.3 million for the Inn and bring in 4500 guests, 2000 of whom do not stay in the Inn but in other local inns and bed and breakfasts instead.
“We feel that we are very strong community supporters sensitive to the neighborhood and the community,” Thulander stated.
High Street resident Bob Pear said that noise was not an issue until the Inn began holding outdoor events after the addition of the Spa in 2010. “It has exceeded the decibel level for much more (than the two spikes noted above),” said Pear. “The Village Development Review Board is acting contrary to the Woodstock Plan and contrary to the state regulations,” he added regarding their grant of the permit.
However, many spoke out in favor of the Inn and their events. “My feeling is that these slight inconveniences are well worth the engine that the Inn provides for our community, “ stated Village Resident Don Olson.
“What the Inn is working so hard to do only benefits us,” said High Street resident Kimann Vollers. “I have never been disturbed. I think the noise from my porch probably bothers the people at the Inn.”
“ I have lived there more than 70 years and I don’t know anyone who has died from too loud a noise,” said Cross Street resident Eddy Paige.