City council sounds off on noise ordinance
6 a.m. construction start fails 10-0
By Scott Bellile
A proposed ordinance that would have paved the way for 6 a.m. construction projects in New London failed to draw a single alderperson’s vote.
The 10 members of the New London City Council unanimously defeated the proposal to allow construction work to start one hour earlier than the current 7 a.m. time.
City noise restrictions will remain in place from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The council’s decision took place at its monthly meeting Sept. 12 after the first reading of a draft amendment to Municipal Code 17.04-5(4).
New London Zoning Administrator Paul Hanlon asked the New London Planning Commission to amend the code at its July 27 meeting.
Hanlon told the commission that contractors prefer to start construction projects earlier on summer days in order to utilize earlier daylight and cooler temperatures.
The commission recommended the idea to the city council on a 5-0 vote, with commissioners Steve Thompson and Doug Noel absent.
At the Sept. 12 council meeting Fourth District Alderman and Planning Commission Chairman Ron Steinhorst moved to bring the proposed amendment to a vote.
When Mayor Gary Henke asked for someone to second the motion, there was silence.
Fifth District Alderman and Council Chairman David Morack agreed to second it for the sake of bringing it to a vote.
The alderpeople cast their no votes without further discussion.
After Henke announced the outcome, First District Alderman John Faucher broke the silence by sarcastically asking Henke, “Your honor, can we include extremely loud motorcycles and vehicles in that?”
Henke grinned and said no before sharing his own complaint about a neighbor’s noisy muffler.
Due to the lack of a council discussion, the Press Star reached out to Morack Monday, Sept. 18, to ask why he thought the vote went the way it did.
Morack said he heard none of his constituents push for the 6 a.m. construction start time.
“In my own case I had about half a dozen comments from different people and they all wanted us to stick with the 7 o’clock start time,” Morack said. “And I’m assuming that the other council members probably had the same reaction from the residents in the city. I’m guessing that’s why there wasn’t any further discussion on that.”
Morack added that in his 17 years on the council, he does not recall another time when the council unanimously shot down an action item.
Two New London residents, Julie Blohm and Amy Luebeck, spoke against the proposed ordinance during a public hearing at the start of the council meeting.
A Beacon Avenue resident, Blohm has been critical of two noisy neighborhood construction projects in progress: the widening of Beacon Avenue and the construction of an affordable housing development. Blohm asked for better enforcement of noise restrictions.
She presented to the council copies of a citizens petition to oppose the ordinance. She said the 26 signatures besides her own were all gathered in under 50 minutes.
“I feel that if contractors or developers come to New London and want to develop here … they should make themselves aware of what the municipal codes are,” Blohm said.
Luebeck, a petition signer, is a Montgomery Street resident living near the Beacon Avenue work. She said third shift workers going to bed at dawn deserve some quiet time to fall asleep.
“I think that 7 a.m. is early enough,” Luebeck said. “I don’t believe that anybody needs to be starting construction at 6 a.m.”
Luebeck questioned Hanlon’s past comments that New London is at a competitive disadvantage by waiting until 7 a.m. She said she researched online and could not find other communities that start at 6 a.m.
Hanlon did not return a request for comment before press time Tuesday, Sept. 19.