Residents complain of needling noise

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Hear that? That's the sound of music, lawn mowers and ferry horns in Port Jefferson.

About a dozen residents came to a public hearing Monday to say they're tired of hearing music from the village's popular bars and restaurants, the semi-hourly blasts from the Bridgeport ferry, and general residential cacophony.

The board is mulling a new noise pollution code that would include limits on outdoor broadcasts of music. It would also restrict noisy construction, gardening and home improvement to certain hours. Other sources of noise -- idling motorcycles and the blasts from the Bridgeport ferry horns -- are not targeted in the proposal.

"The Village of Port Jefferson has a unique mix of commercial and residential uses which requires the additional regulation of sound to ensure the peaceful and symbiotic coexistence of all uses within its boundaries," the proposed new law says.

Along with the village's concentration of restaurants, the landscape of Port Jefferson exacerbates the noise, the bill notes. "An additional challenge is posed by the geography of the village, half of which is located in a natural bowl of hills surrounding the downtown area and harbor. This feature creates a natural amphitheater," the proposal says.

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Code officers wielding sound-level meters would enforce decibel limits on noise, board members said.

While residents applauded the spirit of the proposed law, some questioned its practicality. "You're going to have enormous problems enforcing this," said resident Molly Mason at the hearing. She said the law's provision banning the use of construction equipment on Sundays could be construed as "discriminatory."

Resident Don Pawluk questioned one provision that would limit dog barking to half an hour before code officers could be summoned. "Why does anyone have to listen to a dog barking for 30 minutes?" he asked, suggesting a 10-minute limit.

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Penalties for violating the new noise code would be a fine of $250 or more. The board will have the chance to make minor changes to the proposed code before voting on it at its Sept. 10 meeting.

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