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Athens discusses noise again

Aug 31, 2012 12:04 am
WGXC's Sam Sebren reports from the Wed., Aug. 29 the Athens Village Board Meeting, where one of the items on the agenda was about a proposed noise ordinance. About 25 members of the public, including local musicians and nearby homeowners and business owners, were in attendance regarding the noise ordinance issue. Four of those people signed up to speak to the Board. The first speaker was Sheila Brady who gave each Board member a file folder containing copies of noise ordinances from other nearby cities and villages from Albany and Troy to Tivoli and Saugerties. She said she provided those as examples for the Board members to look through later. Brady is in favor of the Board adopting a noise ordinance. Then Ric Surrano, Jr., manager of Dionysos, spoke briefly to explain the concessions they have made to their outdoor music, which sparked the issue. The restaurant says it has turned down the volume, turned the bands and the PA away from the houses and out toward the river, and built a sound barrier fence, and stopped bands playing at 11 p.m. He then introduced Phil Massaro, a local musician who has played multiple outdoor venues in Athens and other local towns. Massaro pointed out that the music is being being played in an area that is zoned for it, and said, "The amount of sales tax generated is astronomical -- it's part of Athens tax base." Next, Ron Puhalski spoke and talked about the difficulty of enforcing a noise ordinance. He brought up the example of Tivoli where the Black Swan has bands starting to play at 11 p.m. until 4 a.m., and that Tivoli has a noise ordinance which they have had trouble effectively enforcing. As a resident of the village in audible distance of numerous music venues, Puhalski was not in favor of a noise ordinance. Next, Martin Miller, a local musician, spoke about the need for places for musicians to play and that he thinks there is no need for a noise ordinance in Athens. Then, comments were made from other citizens in the room and Board members. Sheila Brady said, "This has begun a dialogue. I think that's the positive that has come out of this. This is a small, condensed village and so businesses and residents have to get along. We never ever presented to the Board or to the business next door (Dionysos) that they should not be allowed to have outdoor music. We've asked for an understanding of the level of sound and a time (limit). This is a case of, there's nothing on our Village books to give us guidance." Mayor Andrea Smallwood replied, "It's very old, but we do have, in the code, a 'Disturbance of the Peace.' It needs to be updated, but when you get the law enforcement coming in, and you feel like your peace is being disturbed, they will do whatever they can to stop that disturbance. We'll be reviewing what you gave us and seeing what works for Athens. Different communities have different issues." Ric Surrano, Sr., director of the Athens Performing Arts Committtee (APAC) which organizes a summer series of music in the Athens park, commented: "I would hate to see something like a noise ordinance come down with APAC because we've been going on for years now. We don't have a noise ordinance and we really don't have a problem." He also mentioned that he has observed Dionysos having made many concessions. Overall, the majority of people in attendance were not in favor of a noise ordinance.