Town of Riverhead, NY
Suffolk County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 12-17-1991 by L.L. No. 10-1991 (Ch. 81 of the 1976 Code)]
A. 
All terminology defined herein which relates to the nature of sound and the mechanical detection and recordation of sound is in conformance with the terminology of the American National Standards Institute or its successor body.
B. 
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ABATEMENT
An official warning to remove, stop and/or cease that which causes an unreasonable noise.
A-WEIGHTED SOUND-PRESSURE LEVEL
The sound-pressure level measured in decibels with a sound-level meter set for A-weighting, abbreviated "dBA."
COMMERCIAL AREA
A group of commercial properties and the abutting public rights-of-way and public spaces.
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
Any property currently or hereinafter zoned for any classification of business or commercial zoning according to the Zoning Map of the Town of Riverhead or any facility or property used for activities involving the furnishing or handling of goods or services, including but not limited to:
(1) 
Commercial dining.
(2) 
Community services.
(3) 
Public services.
(4) 
Other commercial activities.
CONSTRUCTION
Any site preparation, assembly, erection, repair, alteration or similar action, but excluding demolition, of buildings or structures.
CONSTRUCTION DEVICE
Any power device or equipment designed and intended for use in construction, including but not limited to air compressors, bulldozers, backhoes, trucks, shovels, derricks and cranes.
dBA
The A-weighted sound level in decibels, as measured by a general purpose sound-level meter complying with the provisions of the American National Standards Institute Specifications for Sound Level Meters (ANSI SI.4 1971), properly calibrated and operated on the A-weighting network.
DECIBEL (dB)
The practical unit of measurement for sound-pressure level. The number of decibels of a measured sound is equal to 20 times the logarithm of the base 10 of the ratio of the sound pressure of the measured sound to the sound pressure of a standard sound (20 micropascals), abbreviated "dB."
DEMOLITION
Any dismantling, intentional destruction or removal of buildings or structures.
EMERGENCY WORK
Any work or action necessary to deliver essential services, including but not limited to repairing water, gas, electricity, telephone and sewer facilities and public transportation, removing fallen trees on public rights-of-way and abating life-threatening conditions.
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
The value specified by the manufacturer as the recommended maximum loaded weight of a single motor vehicle. In cases where trailers and tractors are separable, the gross combination weight rating (GCWR), which is the value specified by the manufacturer as the recommended maximum loaded weight of the combination vehicle, should be used.
HOMEOWNER'S LIGHT RESIDENTIAL OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT
All engine- or motor-powered equipment intended for repetitive use in residential areas typically capable of being used by a homeowner. Examples of "homeowner's light residential outdoor equipment" are lawn mowers, garden tools, riding tractors, snowblowers, hedge clippers, etc.
IMPULSIVE SOUND
A sound of short duration, usually less than one second, and of high intensity with an abrupt onset and rapid delay. Examples of "impulsive sound" would be explosions, drop forge impacts, discharge of firearms, etc.
INDUSTRIAL AREAS
Those areas zoned as such by the Code of the Town of Riverhead.
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY
Any facility or property used for activities involving the production, fabrication, packaging, storage, warehousing, shipping or distribution of goods, including any property currently or hereinafter zoned for any classification of industrial zoning according to the Zoning Map of the Town of Riverhead.
MOTOR VEHICLE
Any vehicle which is propelled or drawn on land by an engine or motor.
MULTIDWELLING BUILDING
Any building wherein there are two or more dwelling units.
NOISE
Any airborne sound of such level and duration as to be or tend to be injurious to human health or welfare or that would unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
NOISE CONTROL OFFICER
Any employee of the Town of Riverhead trained in the measurement of sound and empowered to issue a summons for violations of this article.
NOISE POLLUTION
The presence of that amount of acoustic energy for that amount of time necessary to:
(1) 
Cause temporary or permanent hearing loss in persons exposed;
(2) 
Be otherwise injurious or tend to be, on the basis of current information, injurious to the public health or welfare;
(3) 
Cause a nuisance;
(4) 
Exceed standards or restrictions established herein; or
(5) 
Interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property or the conduct of business. The following are deemed to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property or the conduct of business:
(a) 
Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on the public streets or from private property at any time that annoys or disturbs the quiet comfort or repose of person or persons in the vicinity and that such noise is plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from the area, building, structure or vehicle from which such noise emanates.
(b) 
The using or operating of or permitting to be played, used or operated any sound reproductive device, including but not limited to any radio, receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph, television set or other machine or device for the producing or reproducing of sound in such manner as to disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of the neighboring inhabitants and in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from the area, building, structure or vehicle in which it is located.
NOISE-SENSITIVE ZONE
Any area designated pursuant to this article for the purpose of ensuring exceptional quiet.
OCTAVE BAND SOUND-PRESSURE LEVEL
Sound-pressure level measured in standard octave bands with sound-level meter and octave band analyzer that meet ANSI SI.4 and SI.11, or the latest revision thereof.
OFF-ROAD RECREATIONAL VEHICLE
Any vehicle which is propelled by any power other than muscular power.
PERSON
An individual, association, firm, syndicate, company, trust, corporation, department, bureau or agency or any other entity recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties.
PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
Any street, avenue, boulevard, road, highway, sidewalk, alley or similar place that is owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
PUBLIC SPACE
Any real property or structures thereon that are owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
(1) 
The imaginary line, including its vertical extension, that separates one parcel of real property from another; or
(2) 
The vertical and horizontal boundaries of a dwelling unit that is one in a multidwelling unit building.
RESIDENTIAL AREA
A group of residential properties and the abutting public rights-of-way and public spaces.
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
Any property used for human habitation.
SOUND
Any variation in ambient barometric pressure.
SOUND-LEVEL METER
An instrument, including a microphone, an amplifier and output meter and frequency-weighting networks, for the measurement of sound levels.
SOUND-PRESSURE LEVEL
The weighted sound-pressure level in decibels obtained by the use of a sound-level meter and frequency-weighting network, such as A, B or C. If the frequency weighting employed is not indicated, the A-weighting slow response shall apply.
SOUND REPRODUCTION DEVICE
Any device that is designed to be used or is actually used for the production or reproduction of sound, including but not limited to any musical instrument, radio, television, tape recorder, phonograph, loudspeaker, public address system or any other sound-amplifying device.
SOUND SIGNAL DEVICE
Any device that is designed to be used or is actually used to produce a sound signal, but not spoken language, including but not limited to any horn, whistle, bell, gong, siren, rattle, clapper, hammer, drum or air horn.
SOUND SOURCE
Any activity or device whatsoever that produces sound.
SOUND SOURCE SITE
Any one parcel of land or a tract of land consisting of two or more parcels, which includes all contiguous land and water areas under the ownership or control of a person in or upon which one or more sound sources are located. The sound source site includes all individual sound sources that are located on such site, whether stationary, movable or mobile. A sound source site is created by the installation of one or more sound sources thereon.
UNREASONABLE NOISE
Any excessive or unusually loud sound or any sound which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of a reasonable person of normal sensitivities or which causes injury to animal life or damage to property or business, except the sound from raceways pursuant to Chapter 259, Raceways, and to agricultural operations. Standards to be considered in determining whether unreasonable noise exists in a given situation include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) 
The volume of the noise.
(2) 
The intensity of the noise.
(3) 
Whether the nature of the noise is usual or unusual.
(4) 
Whether the origin of the noise is usual or unusual.
(5) 
The volume and intensity of the background noise, if any.
(6) 
The proximity of the noise to residential sleeping facilities.
(7) 
The nature and zoning district of the areas within which the noise emanates.
(8) 
The time of day or night the noise occurs.
(9) 
The time duration of the noise.
(10) 
Whether the sound source is temporary.
(11) 
Whether the noise is continuous or impulsive.
A. 
The provisions of this article shall be enforced by noise control officers and/or police officers of the Town of Riverhead.
B. 
The noise control officers shall have the power to:
(1) 
Issue a summons or warning, pursuant to § 251-9, to immediately cease and desist the subject noise.
(2) 
Coordinate the noise control activities of all municipal departments and cooperate with all other public bodies and agencies to the extent practicable.
(3) 
Review the action of other municipal departments and advise such departments of the effect, if any, of such actions on noise control.
(4) 
Review and inspect public projects and, upon consent by the owner or designated agent, review and inspect private projects for compliance with this article.
C. 
The noise control officers shall not use this article in situations within the jurisdiction of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.
A. 
All departments and agencies of the Town of Riverhead shall, to the fullest extent consistent with other law, carry out their programs in such a manner as to further the policy of this article and shall cooperate with the noise control officer in the implementation and enforcement of this article.
B. 
All departments charged with new projects or changes to existing projects that may result in the production of noise shall consult with the noise control officer prior to the approval of such projects to ensure that such activities comply with the provisions of this article.
A. 
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the operation of any source of sound on a particular category of property or any public land or right-of-way in such a manner as to create a sound level that exceeds the particular level limits set forth in Table I[1] when measured at or within the real property line of the receiving property, except those acts specifically prohibited in this article for which no measurement of sound is required.
[1]
Editor's Note: Table I is included as an attachment to this chapter.
B. 
When measuring noise within a multidwelling unit, all doors and windows shall be closed and the measurements shall be taken in the center of the room.
C. 
The following are exempt from the A-weighted sound-pressure level limits of Table I:
(1) 
Noise from the intermittent or occasional use of homeowner's light residential outdoor equipment, including but not limited to domestic power tools, lawn mowers and equipment, when operated with a muffler, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekends and legal holidays.
(2) 
Sound from church bells and church chimes when part of a religious observance or service.
(3) 
Noise from construction activity, except as provided in § 251-5K.
(4) 
Noise from snowblowers, snow throwers and snowplows, when operated with a muffler, for the purpose of snow removal.
(5) 
Noise from stationary emergency signaling devices owned and operated by any public utility, municipal subdivision, fire department or ambulance corps when used in connection with an emergency or for testing purposes, including but not limited to train switching.
(6) 
Noise from a burglar alarm of any building or motor vehicle, provided that such burglar alarm shall terminate its operation within 15 minutes after it has been activated and shall not be operated more than 15 minutes in any one-hour period.
(7) 
Sound from chimes or bells from municipal buildings, including but not limited to fire district buildings.
(8) 
Noise from generators used for emergency purposes.
(9) 
Noise from licensed or permitted fireworks displays, outdoor concerts, musical entertainment, parades or assemblies.
No person shall make, continue or cause or suffer to be made or continued any unreasonable noise as defined in § 251-1 hereof. In particular, without limitations of the foregoing provision of this section, the following enumerated acts are declared to be in violation of this section:
A. 
Sound reproduction devices.
(1) 
No person shall operate or cause to be operated a sound reproduction device that produces unreasonable noise. The operation of any such device in such a manner as to create unreasonable noise across a real property boundary or the operation of such device by a passenger of a vehicle in such a way as to disturb any other person is prohibited.
(2) 
No person shall operate, use or cause to be operated or used any sound reproduction device for commercial or business advertising purposes or for the purposes of attracting attention to any performance, show or sale or display of merchandise in connection with any commercial operation, including but not limited to the sale of radios, televisions, phonographs, tape recorders, phonograph records or tapes; in front or outside of any building, place or premises abutting or adjacent to a public street, park or place, where the sound therefrom may be heard upon any public street, park or place or from any stand, platform or other structure; or on a boat or on the waters within the jurisdiction of the Town of Riverhead; or anywhere on public streets, parks or places. Nothing in this subsection is intended to prohibit sounds emanating from sporting, entertainment or other public events held on property of the Town of Riverhead or School District so suited for such activities, provided that proper authorization from the Town of Riverhead has been obtained.
(3) 
No person shall operate or use or cause to be operated or used any sound reproduction device in any public place in such a manner that the sound emanating therefrom creates unreasonable noise across a real property boundary.
B. 
Shouting and peddling.
(1) 
No person shall shout, yell, call, hoot, whistle or sing on public streets or in public places so as to cause unreasonable noise.
(2) 
No person shall call for the purpose of advertising goods, services, wares or merchandise within any area zoned for residential use so as to cause unreasonable noise. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the sale of merchandise, food and beverages at Town of Riverhead authorized entertainment events such as parades, fairs and sporting events.
C. 
Places of public entertainment. No person shall operate or permit to be operated a place of public entertainment, including but not limited to a restaurant, bar, cafe, discotheque or dance hall, in which the playing of any sound reproduction device or similar device creates a sound level in excess of 95 dBA sustained for more than 30 seconds at any point that is normally occupied by a customer, unless a conspicuous and legible sign is located outside such place, near each public entrance, stating "sound levels within may cause permanent hearing impairment."
D. 
Animals and birds. No person shall keep, permit or maintain any animal, including a bird, under his control which frequently or for continued duration of 15 minutes makes sounds which create unreasonable noise across a residential real property boundary.
E. 
Noise-sensitive zones. No person shall cause or permit the creation of any sound by means of any device or otherwise on any sidewalk, street or public place adjacent to any school, court, house of worship or public library while such facility is in use or adjacent to any hospital or nursing home at any time, so that such sound disrupts the normal activities conducted at such facilities or disturbs or annoys persons making use of such facilities.
F. 
Loading and unloading.
(1) 
No person shall engage in, cause or permit the loading, unloading, opening, closing or other handling of boxes, crates, containers, building materials or similar objects between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day in such a manner as to cause unreasonable noise across a residential real property boundary.
(2) 
This provision shall not apply to the operation of any business as to which specific Town Code regulations set forth different times or covenants were recorded prior to the enactment of this article by direction of any agency of the Town of Riverhead settling forth a limitation for conducting of the activities set forth in Subsection F(1) above during the hours other than those set forth in said subsection. In such case, the hours set forth in the covenant or Town Code regulations shall control.
G. 
Horns and signaling devices. No person shall cause or permit to be caused the sounding of any horn or other auditory signaling device on or in any motor vehicle except to serve as a danger warning.
H. 
Squealing tires. No person shall operate a vehicle in such a manner as to cause unnecessary noise by spinning or squealing the tires of such vehicle.
I. 
Standing motor vehicles.
(1) 
No person shall operate or permit to be operated the engine of any motor vehicle or any auxiliary equipment attached to such vehicle, for a period longer than 10 minutes in any hour while the vehicle is stationary, for reasons other than traffic congestion, on any private property or public right-of-way or public space so that the sound therefrom is audible within 300 feet of a residential property boundary between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day.
(2) 
This subsection shall not apply to authorized emergency vehicles or to public utility vehicles actually engaged in any emergency repair activity.
J. 
Street cleaning and/or parking lot sweeper equipment. No person shall engage in or permit to be operated any street sweepers, industrial vacuums or other like equipment between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to emergency work or municipal street cleaning.
K. 
Construction.
(1) 
No person shall operate or permit to be operated any construction device, including but not limited to construction and demolition work, excavating or earthmoving equipment:
(a) 
Between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day on weekdays or at any time on Sundays or legal holidays, such that the sound therefrom creates unreasonable noise across a residential real property boundary.
(b) 
At any other time such that the continuous sound-in-air level at or across a real property boundary exceeds an L{10} of 80 dBA.
(c) 
At any other time such that the impulsive sound-in-air has a peak sound-pressure level at or across a real property boundary in excess of 130 dBA.
(2) 
The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to emergency work.
L. 
Commercial, business and industrial operation.
(1) 
No person shall operate or permit to be operated on a sound source site a commercial business or industrial operation that produces a sound level exceeding the limitations as provided in this subsection.
(2) 
Continuous sound-in-air which has crossed the property line of such sound source site and enters property zoned for residential use or property within a noise-sensitive zone shall not exceed either of the following levels:
(a) 
Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.:[1]
[1] 
A sound level in excess of 65 dBA measured with the slow response of sound-level meter.
[2] 
An L{10} in excess of 60 dBA.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 101, General Provisions, Art. I).
(b) 
Between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day:[2]
[1] 
A sound level in excess of 50 dBA measured with the slow response of a sound-level meter.
[2] 
An L{10} in excess of 45 dBA.
[2]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 101, General Provisions, Art. I).
(c) 
The sound levels contained herein shall not apply to noise-sensitive zones when the facilities in such zones are not in use.
(3) 
Continuous sound-in-air which has crossed the property line of a sound source site and enters property which is zoned for business or property where the public in general congregates, except property zoned for industrial use, shall not exceed either of the following levels:
(a) 
A sound level in excess of 65 dBA measured with the slow response of a sound-level meter.
(b) 
An L{10} in excess of 60 dBA.
(4) 
The sound levels specified in Subsection L(2) and (3) above shall be decreased by five decibels if the sound contains impulsive sound characteristics.
(5) 
Exposure to sound that has crossed the property line of a sound source site and enters property zoned for industrial use shall not exceed any of the following levels:
(a) 
Continuous sound-in-air.
Duration per Day
(24 hours)
Sound Level 80 dBA
(slow response)
16
82
8
85
4
88
2
91
1
94
1/2
97
1/4
100
(b) 
Impulsive sound-in-air which has a peak pressure level in excess of 100 decibels.
M. 
Noise mufflers. No person shall operate a motor vehicle which shall fail to contain a muffler or other sound-suppression equipment in operable condition which shall prevent said vehicle from causing unnecessary noise. In addition to other standards contained herein in the definition of "unreasonable noise" under § 251-1, a motor vehicle shall be deemed to cause unreasonable noise if it produces a sound level of 80 dBA or more.
The provisions of this article shall not apply to:
A. 
Agricultural operations.
B. 
The emission of sound for the purpose of alerting persons to the existence of an emergency.
C. 
The emission of sound in the performance of emergency work.
D. 
The noise generated in agricultural production and operating, including but not limited to farm irrigation equipment, animal training or air cannons used to prevent animal damage.
E. 
Raceway operations regulated by Chapter 259, Raceways, of the Town Code.
A. 
The Town Board of the Town of Riverhead shall have the authority, consistent with this section, to grant variances to this article.
B. 
Any person seeking a variance pursuant to this section shall file an application with the Town Board. The application shall consist of a letter signed by the applicant and contain a legal form of verification. Such letter shall contain information which demonstrates that bringing the source of sound or activity for which the variance is sought into compliance with this article would constitute an unreasonable hardship on the applicant, on the community or on other persons. In addition, the following information shall be provided:
(1) 
The plan, specifications and other information pertinent to such sources.
(2) 
The characteristics of the sound emitted by the source, including but not limited to the sound levels, the presence of impulsive sounds and the hours during which such sound is generated.
(3) 
The noise abatement and control methods used to restrict the emission of sound.
C. 
The Town Board, upon receipt of such application and upon payment of any fee which shall be required by resolution of the Town Board, shall set the matter down for a public hearing to be held within 30 days from the date the application was submitted. The Town Board shall cause publication of such public hearing to be given in the official newspaper of the Town in the same manner as an application for a special permit is published. The applicant, in like manner, shall give notice of the application by certified mail, return receipt, to all property owners surrounding the sound source site within a radius of 200 feet from the borders of said site.
D. 
In determining whether to grant or deny the application, the Town Board shall balance the hardship to the applicant, the community and other persons against the adverse impact on the health, safety and welfare of persons affected, the adverse impact on the property affected and any other adverse impacts deemed appropriate.
E. 
The Town Board shall cause the taking of sound-level readings by an agency to be designated by the Town Board in the event that there shall be any dispute as to the sound levels prevailing or to prevail at the sound source site.
F. 
The Town Board shall have the power to impose restrictions, conditions and the recording of covenants upon any sound source site, including time limits of permitted activity, in the event that it shall grant any variance hereunder.
A. 
Any person who violates any provision of this article shall be guilty of a violation and shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $250 for each offense.
B. 
Each day (twenty-four-hour period) of violation of any provision of this article shall constitute a separate offense.
A. 
Except as provided in Subsection B below, in lieu of issuing a summons, the noise control officer may issue a warning requiring abatement of any source of sound alleged to be in violation of this article.
B. 
A warning shall not be issued when the noise control officer has reason to believe that there will not be compliance with the warning, when the alleged violator has been served with a previous warning or had previously been convicted for a violation of this article.
No provision of this article shall be construed to impair any common law or statutory cause of action, or legal remedy therefrom, of any person for injury or damage arising from any violation of this article or from other law.