[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of New Castle 4-11-1989 by L.L. No. 8-1989. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Town of New Castle Noise Control Law."
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Town of New Castle to safeguard the right of its residents within the privacy of their homes to be free from intrusive unwanted sounds. Problems concerning the disturbance of peace and quiet by noise from various activities are best solved by thoughtful discussions and cooperative agreements between affected parties. However, to resolve remaining problems of noise which is disturbing to others, it is the policy of the Town of New Castle to establish standards, variance procedures, enforcement procedures and penalties.
As used in this chapter, the following terms and phrases shall have the following meanings:
- DECIBEL (dB)
- A unit for measuring the volume of sound, equal to 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the sound pressure of the measured sound to a standard pressure of 20 micronewtons per square meter.
- New Year's Day, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.
- NONRESIDENTIAL ZONING DISTRICT
- Any zoning district which is not a residential zoning district. "Nonresidential zoning districts" include B-RO-4, B-RO-20, B-PO, B-D, B-R, B-RP, B-RO-150, I-P and I-G Zoning Districts.
- RESIDENTIAL ZONING DISTRICT
- Any zoning district in which one-family detached dwellings or one-family and multifamily dwellings are permitted principal uses, including Zoning Districts R-2A, R-1A, R-1/2A, MFPD, MFR-M and MFR-C.
- SOUND LEVEL
- The sound-pressure level measured in decibels with a sound-level meter set to A-weighting, expressed in dB(A).
- SOUND-LEVEL METER
- An instrument for the measurement of sound levels which conforms to Type 1 or Type 2 standards under ANSI Specifications S1.4-1971 or the latest approved revision thereof.
- SOUND REPRODUCTION DEVICE
- Any electronic or electrical device that is used for the production of sound, including but not limited to any loudspeaker, radio, television, tape recorder, phonograph or any other sound-amplifying equipment.
- UNREASONABLY INTRUSIVE
- Any sound which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of a reasonable person of normal sensitivities under the circumstances.
[Amended 8-14-1990 by L.L. No. 32-1990]
No person shall or no owner or occupant of any premises shall operate or permit to be operated or use or cause to be operated in the Town of New Castle any sound source that produces a sound level exceeding the limitations in this section. The measurement of any sound or noise shall be made with a sound level meter using the A-weighted scale and slow response except for sounds or noises which occur in single or multiple bursts with a duration of less than one second for which fast response shall be used. The sound level determination or measurement shall be conducted not nearer to the sound source than the closest property line of the parcel on which such noise is generated, except where otherwise specified, and in no case on public or private streets. When the determination or measurement is made for a dwelling unit of a multi-dwelling-unit building as the receiving property, all exterior doors and windows of the dwelling unit shall be closed, and the determination or measurement shall be taken in the center of a room.
Customary residential activities. Customary residential activities on properties within any residential zoning district, including social gatherings, deliveries of residential heating oil and pickup of residential garbage, as well as permitted agricultural activities, shall not be regulated by this chapter, except for specific activities or noise sources that are subject to and governed by § 90-5A, Sound reproduction devices; § 90-5B, Burglar alarms; § 90-5C, Animals; § 90-6B, Construction activities; or § 90-6C, Domestic tools and equipment; vehicle repair.
Other activities. Noise produced by other activities on properties within any residential or nonresidential zoning district shall not exceed 60 dB(A) during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or 45 dB(A) during the hours of 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. on any other property used for residential purposes within any residential zoning district unless otherwise permitted in § 90-7, Exceptions. However, the restrictions contained in this Subsection B shall not be applicable to specific activities or noise sources that are subject to and governed by § 90-5A, Sound reproduction devices; § 90-5B, Burglar alarms; § 90-5C, Animals; § 90-6A, Air-conditioning and air-handling equipment; § 90-6B, Construction activities; or § 90-6C, Domestic tools and equipment; vehicle repair.
[Amended 8-14-1990 by L.L. No. 32-1990]
Sound reproduction devices. No person shall or no owner or occupant of any premises shall operate or permit to be operated or use or cause to be operated loudspeakers or other sound reproduction devices so as to produce sounds which are audible between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. or are audible and unreasonably intrusive at any other times on any other property used for residential purposes within any residential zoning district as determined within and no closer to the property line of the receiving property than the absolute minimum side yard distance specified in § 60-411 for the residential zoning district in which the receiving property is located (40 feet for R-2A, 25 feet for R-1A, 15 feet for R-1/2A, 10 feet for R-1/4A, 20 feet for MFPD and 15 feet for MFR-M and MFR-C), except as permitted in Subsection B, Burglar alarms, or § 90-7, Exceptions. For any sound reproduction device operated in any MFPD, MFR-M or MFR-C development, the limitation on audibility of sound from that device shall be applied only outside of that development. Nothing in this subsection is intended to prohibit incidental sounds emanating from public sporting events or public entertainment events.
Burglar alarms. Sound from an exterior burglar alarm of any building or motor vehicle shall terminate within 15 minutes after it has been activated.
Animals. It shall be unlawful for any owner of or any other person harboring any animal to permit or allow such animal while in the Town of New Castle to engage in habitual loud howling or barking which is unreasonably intrusive.
Exhaust and mufflers. No person shall cause or permit the operation of any device, vehicle, construction equipment or lawn maintenance equipment, including but not limited to any diesel engine, internal combustion engine or turbine engine, that has been modified or become defective so as to cause the level of sound emitted to be greater than that emitted as originally manufactured.
[Amended 8-14-1990 by L.L. No. 32-1990]
Air-conditioning and air-handling equipment. No person shall or no owner or occupant of any premises shall operate or permit to be operated or use or cause to be operated an air-conditioning or air-handling device that produces a sound level greater than 55 dB(A) on any other property used for residential purposes within any residential zoning district. However, this limitation shall not apply to properly operating air-conditioning equipment installed in residential zoning districts prior to enactment of this chapter.
Construction activities. Any building or construction activity, including the clearing and removal of trees or other site preparation work which is audible outside of a building or structure, is permitted only as follows:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, except holidays, during the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.;
Saturday, Sunday and holidays during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except that blasting is not permitted on Saturday, Sunday and holidays and is further regulated by Chapter 44, Blasting, of the Town Code; or
Domestic tools and equipment; vehicle repair.
In addition to the restrictions of § 90-6B, no person shall or no owner or occupant of any premises shall operate or permit to be operated or use or cause to be operated any hand tool or power tool or equipment, including but not limited to saws, hammers, sanders, drills, grinders, lawn or garden tools, mowers, tractors, chain saws, leaf blowers or gatherers or similar devices or wood chippers of any kind, or cause or permit vehicle repair or engine tune-up activities so as to create noise in excess of the following limits. This prohibition includes equipment used by lawn care or landscape services.
Noise levels from domestic tools and equipment and from vehicle repair during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to sundown, Monday through Friday, except holidays, and 9:00 a.m. to sundown, Saturday, Sunday and holidays, shall not be restricted by this subsection. At all other times, such noise levels shall not exceed 45 dB(A) on any other property used for residential purposes within any residential zoning district.
However, uses of snowblowers, chain saws and other domestic tools and equipment are exempted from these limits when they are being used to clear driveways, streets or walkways during and within 24 hours after snowfalls, rainstorms, ice storms, windstorms or similar emergencies.
Noise from sound reproduction devices in motor vehicles.
[Added 1-11-1994 by L.L. No. 1-1994]
Noise level from sound reproduction devices emanating from motor vehicles during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. shall not exceed 60 decibels as measured from the nearest curb or edge of the roadway nor shall such noises be audible more than 50 feet from the motor vehicle from which the noise emanates. From 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., such noise level shall not exceed 45 decibels as measured from the nearest curb or edge of the roadway nor be audible more than 25 feet from the motor vehicle from which the noise emanates.
Nothing herein shall be deemed to apply to noise emanating from the operation of motor vehicles on public highways, which is regulated by the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law; nor shall it be deemed to apply to equipment operation used in connection with the operation of motor vehicles, such as mufflers and horns, which are further regulated by the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law; nor shall this subsection be deemed to apply to motor vehicles regulated by the Federal Noise Control Act of 1972.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the production of music in connection with any military or civic parade, funeral procession or religious service.
This chapter shall not be construed to prohibit the use of any organ, bell, chimes or any other similar instrument or device by any church, synagogue or school on or within its own premises in connection with religious rites or ceremonies of such church or synagogue or in connection with a school education program.
For sound reproduction devices used in connection with weddings or similar events on any property used for residential purposes, sound levels in excess of those permitted in § 90-5A are allowed, provided that such sound levels do not exceed 65 dB(A) on any other property used for residential purposes within any residential zoning district and provided that sound levels in excess of those permitted in § 90-5A cease by 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday nights and by 12:30 a.m. on Saturday or Sunday mornings.
Sounds created by any governmental agency by the use of public warning devices are exempted from the limitations of this chapter.
Sounds created by public utilities in carrying out the operations of their franchise are exempted from the limitations of this chapter.
Sounds connected with sporting events of any public or private school, swim or tennis club or country club or with New Castle Recreation Commission sponsored or permitted special events or sports programs are exempted from the limitations of this chapter.
Sounds connected with activities and equipment of the New Castle Department of Public Works are exempted from the limitations of this chapter.
Sounds created by aircraft or by motor vehicles on public streets are exempted from the limitations of this chapter.
[Amended 3-26-2019 by L.L. No. 3-2019]
Where there are practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in the way of carrying out the strict letter of this chapter, the Town Board shall have the power in passing upon a petition for a variance duly made pursuant to Subsection E by owners of properties with nonresidential uses which would be in violation of other subsections of this chapter to vary or modify the application of any of the regulations or provisions of this chapter so that the spirit of this chapter shall be observed, public health, safety and welfare secured and substantial justice done.
No variation or adjustment in the strict application of any regulations or provisions of this chapter shall be granted by the Town Board unless it finds that:
The applicant has demonstrated good and sufficient cause for the granting of a variance. Such demonstration shall be founded upon a fair consideration of the circumstances present pertinent to the petition, including but not limited to:
The social utility of the use or activity for which a variance is sought.
The nature and degree of observed variance from prescribed standards that results from such use or activity.
The impact of such use or activity on other residents and properties.
The nature and cost of available measures that may be taken to mitigate the impact of such use or activity.
There are unique or special circumstances or conditions, fully described in the findings of the Town Board, applying to the activity or to the use of land, property or facilities for which the variance is sought which warrant the granting of a variance on the ground of practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship.
The granting of a variance is necessary to enable the applicant to conduct the activity or use for which a variance is sought without unreasonable burden or restriction, and the variance as granted by the Town Board is the minimum adjustment that will accomplish such purpose.
The granting of the variance will be in harmony with the general purposes and intent of this chapter, will not be injurious to the community or any neighborhood or otherwise detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare and will not be in conflict with other laws or ordinances or inconsistent with the Comprehensive Master Plan of the town.
The Town Board, in passing upon a petition for a variance under this chapter, may limit the effective period of any variance granted and may impose upon the grant or operation of any variance such conditions in furtherance of the public interest as the Town Board finds necessary or appropriate.
The Town Board shall retain continuing jurisdiction over and with respect to any variance granted under this chapter and it shall have the fullest powers and authority allowed by law to review, rehear, modify, reverse or annul, for good cause shown, any order, resolution, decision or determination made with respect to a petition for or the granting of a variance under this chapter. No such review, reconsideration or action shall be taken except upon and after notice and a hearing as provided in Subsections F and G.
All such appeals shall be in writing on forms prescribed by the Town Board, and each appeal or application shall refer to the specific provisions of this chapter and shall exactly set forth the details of the variance that is applied for and the grounds on which it is claimed that the same should be granted. Any petition for a variance shall also identify all practical steps which have been taken or which are proposed to be taken by the applicant to reduce noise.
Notice of hearing. Notice of any hearing shall be published by the Town Board in the official paper at least five days prior to the date of said hearing. Notice of the hearing shall also be mailed by the Town Board to the parties at least five days before such hearing. The applicant shall mail, by certified mail, notice of the hearing to all abutting property owners and to all owners of property situated directly across a street from the property affected by such appeal. Proof of such mailing shall be submitted to the Town Board by the applicant prior to the hearing. The applicant shall be responsible for the cost of publication and mailing of such notice. For any application for which a hearing is not required, the applicant shall be required to provide a copy of its application to the Town Board at the time it is submitted to the Town with notice to the residents so that if they have any comments or objections they can advise the Town Board within seven days of the application.
Hearing. The Town Board shall conduct a public hearing on any application made pursuant to this chapter, except for an application for events that will last no longer than 24 hours. The Town Board may require a public hearing for such events if it finds within its discretion that a public hearing should be held. At such public hearings, all those present and wishing to be heard shall be given an opportunity to be heard.
For a period of 180 days after this chapter becomes effective, a properly filed application for a variance shall exempt the applicant from the specific provisions of this chapter from which a variance is being sought, from the date of filing of the application until the Town Board has ruled on the application.
The provisions of this chapter shall in no case remove or render less restrictive limitations on noise generation or other conditions imposed for specific properties by actions of the New Castle Zoning Board of Appeals or by actions of the New Castle Planning Board or required under other applicable laws or regulations.
The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by the Police Department of the Town of New Castle or other officials designated by the Town Board.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of an offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not exceeding $250. Each day that a violation shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of this chapter shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder of this chapter but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part thereof directly involved in the litigation in which such judgment shall have been rendered.
Section 60-424.4 of the New Castle Town Code is hereby repealed.
This chapter shall become effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State.