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Proposed East Hampton nightlife noise rules on hold

Main Street in East Hampton Village on Sept.

Main Street in East Hampton Village on Sept. 8, 2011. Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

A plan to regulate noise from nightclubs and other spots in East Hampton that draw big summer crowds generated about an hour's worth of noise itself, as town officials held a hearing on the proposed code change.

In the end, after a stream of lawyers, residents and business owners complained about the possible effects of the changes, the town board decided on Thursday to reexamine the plan.

No one praised the new zoning proposal.

The new code would have changed how noise is measured, and it would have eliminated a restriction that noise be measured at the property line -- a provision that was sometimes difficult for town workers to follow because boundaries can be difficult to locate.

Instead, it would allow noise to be measured up to 15 feet from the property line, which drew complaints that noise meters might pick up other sounds.

"This is much simpler than our current ordinance," said town attorney John Jilnicki. "We can take a reading at the property line or in a public right of way."

The proposed code change also would revise the acceptable noise level from a specific decibel number to a variable sound level. But the code would allow ambient noise to be measured at a specific site or a "comparable location," generally at the same time of day and within two weeks of the noise violation measurement.

Some people complained that the new code set a 20-second limit to measure ambient, or background, noise, which they said was not long enough to get a fair reading. Such a reading is not needed in the current code. Others said the new code would give a noise bonus to already noisy places, which have a higher ambient noise level.

Margaret Turner, head of the East Hampton Business Alliance, said no business leaders had been asked to take part in the discussions that led to the proposed code change. Others from the alliance said that -- based on an increase of noise above the ambient level -- every big outdoor wedding and weekend party would likely be in violation of the town code.

Paul Monte, chief executive of Gurney's Inn and president of the local chamber of commerce, noted a certain amount of noise is part of the reason people visit East Hampton in the summer. "I would appreciate it if this goes back to the drawing board for more discussion," he said. The town board agreed.


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