Town of Bethlehem, NY
Albany County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Bethlehem 12-23-2009 by L.L. No. 5-2009. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Alarm systems — See Ch. 35.
Building construction and fire prevention administration — See Ch. 53.
Dogs — See Ch. 61.
Firearms — See Ch. 66.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Town of Bethlehem Noise Abatement and Containment Ordinance."
It is hereby declared to be the public policy of the Town of Bethlehem to restrict the creation of unreasonable noise in the Town, so as to preserve, protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare, and the peace and quiet of the inhabitants of the Town, prevent injury to human, plant and animal life and property, foster the convenience and comfort of its inhabitants, and to facilitate the enjoyment of the natural attractions of the Town. It is the public policy of the Town that every person is entitled to ambient noise levels that are not detrimental to life, health and enjoyment of his or her property. It is hereby declared that the making, creation or maintenance of excessive noises within the Town affects and is a menace to public health, comfort, convenience, safety, welfare and the prosperity of the people of the Town. The provisions and prohibitions hereinafter contained and enacted are for the above-mentioned purpose.
Nothing in this chapter shall abridge the powers of any Police Department, Code Enforcement Department, or other expressly authorized personnel to enforce the provisions of this or any other chapter. Nothing herein shall be construed to abridge the emergency powers of any governmental agency, or the right of such agency to engage in any necessary or proper activities.
As used in this chapter, the following definitions shall mean:
dBA
The abbreviation designating the unit of sound level as measured by a sound level meter using the A-weighting, also known as "dBA." All references to "decibel" or "dB" shall be presumed to mean "dBA" unless otherwise specified.
RESTRICTED HOURS
Hours during which noise will be restricted and subject to stricter compliance and enforcement. Restricted hours are between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. seven days a week and are the hours that many residents have a need or reasonable expectation of quiet or reduced noise.
SOUND
Pressure waves through the air, which are capable of being detected by the average human ear. For purposes of this chapter, sound shall include all frequencies in the approximate range of 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz and such characteristics as duration, intensity as well as frequency.
SPECIAL LEGISLATION
Legislation passed by the Town Board exempting an entity or event from requirements created as a result of this chapter.
UNREASONABLE NOISE
Any sound that is unreasonably loud, disturbing, and unnecessary, and of such level and duration as to be or tend to be injurious to human health or welfare, or which would unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property by a reasonable person of normal sensibilities within the Town of Bethlehem.
The following noises are deemed unreasonable and shall constitute a violation of this section:
A. 
Any noise which either disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace, safety or welfare of a reasonable person of normal sensibilities.
B. 
Any noise which, when measured by a sound level meter at the property line of the parcel from which it is emanating or at a distance of 20 feet if it is emanating from something or someone on a street, is in excess of 65 dBA between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day.
C. 
Noise from vehicles. Motor vehicles on public highways sound level limits and equipment shall be in compliance with provisions of any state law, including but not limited to §§ 386 and 375 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law. No person shall operate a vehicle in such a manner as to cause unreasonable noise by spinning or squealing the tires, or revving the motor of such vehicle.
D. 
Noise from sound production and sound reproduction devices. No person shall operate, play, or allow the operation or playing of any radio, television, phonograph, drum, musical instrument, sound amplifier, or similar device which produces, reproduces or amplifies sound so as to produce unreasonable noise.
E. 
Noise from power tools. No person shall operate power tools and equipment including, but not limited to, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and chain saws on a residential property before 7:00 a.m. and after the later of sunset or 8:00 p.m., except as exempted in § 81-11, Exemptions. This prohibition shall not apply to the use of snow removal equipment used to remove any recently fallen snow.
F. 
Noise from construction. No person shall operate or permit to be operated any tools or equipment used in construction, drilling, excavation or demolition work, between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. the following day, except as specifically exempted § 81-11, Exemptions, above 65 dBA of noise as measured by a sound level meter at the property line of the parcel from which it is emanating or at a distance of 20 feet if it is emanating from something on a street.
G. 
Noise from companion animals. No person shall allow a companion animal to engage in habitual barking, crying, or whining, and consistently disturb the comfort or repose of any person other than the owner of the companion animal, provided that nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or interfere with the authority of designated animal control officers as prescribed in § 61-1 of the Laws of the Town of Bethlehem.
A. 
Any person who owns or operates any noise source may file an application with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for a special permit from any of the provisions of this chapter. The ZBA shall have the authority to grant special permits for a limited time period and purpose of this chapter. Such waivers shall be granted only in those circumstances where the applicant demonstrates that the waiver is necessary for a valid purpose, that the proposed waiver is the minimal intrusion needed, and that, on balance, the need for the benefits of the waiver outweigh the needs and rights of the surrounding neighbors to a peaceable and quiet environment.
B. 
The application shall consist of a letter signed by the applicant and shall contain information, including but not limited to:
(1) 
The name and address of the applicant;
(2) 
The nature and location of the noise source for which such application is made;
(3) 
The reason for which the permit is requested, including the likely hardship that will result to the applicant, or the public, if the permit is not granted;
(4) 
The general nature and intensity of noise that will occur during the period of the permit;
(5) 
A description of interim noise control measures to be taken by the applicant to minimize noise and the impact occurring therefrom;
(6) 
The names and addresses of all owners of adjacent/contiguous land within 200 feet of the premises, if publically available. Adjacent land includes land on the opposite side of the public roadway which, but for the public roadway, would be directly contiguous to the applicant's premises covered by the permit application. The applicant in like manner shall give notice of the application by either U.S. mail or via personal delivery to all known adjacent property owners surrounding the sound source within a radius of 200 feet from the border of said site, as defined in this subsection;
(7) 
Documentation that the sound will result in the minimum amount of noise necessary to achieve the purpose of the permit; and
(8) 
A filing fee, as set by resolution of the Town Board of the Town of Bethlehem.
C. 
The applicant's failure to supply the information required by this section may be cause for rejection of the application.
D. 
The duration of the permit shall not exceed 12 months but may be limited by the ZBA to any period of time up to 12 months, for reasonable cause.
E. 
A special permit from any of the provisions of § 81-6 of this chapter shall not exceed the time duration of any building permit for the same activity for which a special permit may be sought.
This chapter does not preclude the necessity of the applicant to obtain the approval or permit required by any other agency before proceeding with the action approved under the approved special permit.
The applicant or the applicant's agent shall have readily available the approved special permit at the location or site for which the permit has been issued and shall show same to any agent of the Town whenever requested.
Activity conducted under the special permit shall be open to inspection at any time by any agent of the Town.
The permit may be revoked by the enforcement personnel if:
A. 
There is a violation of one or more conditions of the permit;
B. 
There is a material misrepresentation of fact in the permit application; or
C. 
There is a material change in any of the circumstances relied upon by Code Enforcement in granting the permit.
Noise from these sources are exempt from the provisions of the Town of Bethlehem Noise Ordinance:
A. 
Government or public utility related activities: government and school-sponsored activities, events, celebrations or services, including fire and police sirens and other emergency notifications, as well as the use of any authorized equipment for the purpose of the construction, maintenance or repair of any public highway, facility or utility.
B. 
Agricultural operations: reasonable and normal agricultural-related noise occurring within an agricultural district, or in an area where agricultural activities are permitted within the zone, preexisting conditions and activities in accordance with the New York State Right to Farm Law and farm operations on properties that receive agricultural assessments and lands classified as agricultural use by the NYS Office of Real Property Services.
C. 
Firearms: the legal use of firearms.
D. 
Aircraft: lawful use of aircraft as governed by the Federal Aviation Act.
E. 
Maintenance and construction: emergency maintenance or construction activities.
F. 
Disaster recovery activity: noise created from activity related to recovery from storms, emergencies or natural disasters which includes but is not limited to removal equipment including chain saws, generators, heavy machinery and other equipment used for the purpose of addressing an emergency or natural disaster.
G. 
Manufacturing activities: activities undertaken by manufacturing, warehousing operations, railroad or other commercial transportation mode, where the activity is appropriately zoned.
H. 
Commercial services: the routine performance of essential commercial services including trash removal, snow removal and newspaper delivery.
I. 
Preexisting businesses: any functions of businesses that were in use prior to the adoption of this chapter.
[Added 8-10-2011 by L.L. No. 5-2011]
The noise control requirements established by this chapter shall be administered and enforced jointly by the Town of Bethlehem Police Department, the Building Department and such employees and/or officials authorized by the Town Board. Violation of any provision of this chapter shall be cause for an appearance ticket to be issued.
Any person who violated any provision of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of an offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to penalties in the following manner:
A. 
Upon the first conviction, by a fine not less than $50 and not more than $250.
B. 
Upon a second conviction, by a fine not less than $100 and not more than $250 or by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 10 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
C. 
Upon a third or subsequent conviction, by a fine not less than $250 or by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 15 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
D. 
If the violation is of a continuing nature, each day during which it occurs shall constitute an additional, separate and distinct offense.