Stephentown Town Board Action – Concerns About Concert Sounds
by Phillip Zema
From August 19 to 22, the Bella Terra Festival was held at Gardner’s Field in Stephentown. Event promoter, Jeffrey Schneider, reported that 1,400 people attended the event and that it was well-received by the community. Several residents, however, expressed concerns about the amount of noise created by the concert. Reportedly, even during late-night hours, post 11 pm, the music was noticeably loud in parts of town. One resident asked whether there was a Town ordinance that regulated noise. The response was that there was no such ordinance at the local level, only at the state level.
Schneider apologized for any disturbance or inconvenience the concert might have created. He also claimed that the loud late-night sound was unintentional; it could not be anticipated how much the sound would reverberate off the mountains. Accordingly, at 11 pm, the nature of the concert changed in order to minimize noise. It was also mentioned that the bass was turned down and the concert was configured so as to minimize the amount of people who might be affected by the music. The event’s coordinators were surprised to hear that there were multiple complaints. Schneider said that if they held another festival in town, he would be open to having a public forum beforehand where residents could discuss their concerns.
Supervisor Eckhardt noted that the music festival complied with health codes and was well managed. That is, the parking and traffic was controlled and organized, the food venders were compliant with health regulations and the concert itself was safe. For example, there were EMTs stationed on the grounds. Several residents added that the event was good for the community and beneficial to the local economy.
There was concern about instituting a Town noise ordinance, however. The general worry was that such an ordinance might be too vague and difficult to apply. Does someone snowblowing their driveway at 5:30 am constitute a noise infraction? Eckhardt mentioned that in the future, perhaps the Town could come to some pre-established agreement with the event’s promoters. Brian Baker added that noise is sometimes an object of concern even at the local level (e.g. the wood mill, the Lebanon Valley Speedway), yet he was concerned that unless a code enforcer had a clear legal framework to work by, any application of a sound ordinance could be arbitrary.
Transfer Station Rates Go Up
The transfer station sticker rates rose from $10 to $15. Matthew Curley, Executive Director of ERCSWMA, said that the Town’s transfer rates were much lower than demographically comparable towns. He claimed the station is still operating on rates that have been in effect for two decades. Reportedly, the Stephentown Transfer Station operates at a $45-70K per year loss. The increased rates will help the station pay its own way.
There was some concern about why residents cannot put aside or collect valuable items at the Stephentown Transfer Station. People were worried that objectively valuable and useful stuff would simply be thrown away, such as a dresser in good condition. The Board said that the Town does not have the manpower to hold such items over an extended time. Moreover, if an accident were to occur on the property, the Town would be liable. An example given was someone hurting themselves taking something out of a dumpster.
Former Fire Department Volunteer Expresses Concern
Jamieson Pelletier, a Stephentown resident and volunteer fireman, addressed the Town Council about his March expulsion from the Stephentown Fire Department. He claimed that even after seven months he was not getting answers as to why he was expelled. Pelletier told the Council that he was concerned that the Fire Department’s bylaws were not correctly followed.
Eckhardt was concerned about the matter but said the issue fell outside the Town Council’s jurisdiction. He added that, as a Stephentown resident, he was concerned and would look into the matter.
Eileen Roder and Jessica Rontay will become the co-chairpersons of the Stephentown Youth Commission effective December 31. Deborah Angley has resigned as Secretary of the ZBA; her resignation will take effect on September 30, 2010. Stephanie Wagar was appointed Deputy Town Clerk. She will hold this position until the expiration date of the present term, which is December 31.