The mostly rural town of Johnstown has never had a noise ordinance, but town board members are set to review a Noise Control Law drafted by the town’s attorney.
Johnstown Supervisor Jack Wilson said the Town Board will not be considering a noise control law at its 6 p.m. meeting Monday night, but he will be distributing copies of a law he tasked Town Attorney Leah Everhart to draft for the purpose of possible discussion at a later date.
“She said she would find a noise ordinance that we could look at,” Wilson said. “We’re not even going to talk about it. It’s not even on the agenda.”
Town Board member Timothy Rizzo brought the concept of a noise control law to the public’s attention on Friday with a social media post on Facebook stating: “Town Residents should know that select people are trying to pass a new noise ordinance. I feel it’s WRONG!”
Rizzo provided the Daily Gazette with Everhart’s 12-page draft titled “Town of Johnstown Noise Control Law”, which would set out rules for the decibel level of noise allowed in the town’s different zoning districts at different times of day.
Rizzo said he’s not sure if he’s going to attend Johnstown’s meeting Monday, due to his concerns about the town not requiring residents who attend the meeting to wear masks and his concerns about contracting the coronavirus.
“At the last meeting, they allowed a resident to come in and sit without a mask, and it made me mad because it says right on the door you’re supposed to be wearing a mask when you walk in that meeting,” he said. “I didn’t want to be near them, so I don’t sit on the top stand with the rest of the board, so I sit near the window in the back with the window open, because I have a health issue.”
Rizzo had surgery in June on his spleen and is currently taking medications that suppress his immune system, which could make him more susceptible to contracting the virus and potentially dying from it. He said he wanted to alert the public to the possibility the noise control law would be introduced “like a pop quiz” to a town board agenda during the pandemic while few people are attending the meetings.
“I’ve heard from the town clerk that they tried to do this when [former supervisor] Nancy McVean was in office and it got killed immediately,” Rizzo said.
“I’m just appalled this is in draft form and the board hasn’t even discussed it. How can we have a good discussion about this when we’re having COVID problems, and we’re trying to regulate people and people won’t come to the building to complain.”
Wilson said Rizzo is wrong to infer the board is operating in a clandestine fashion with respect to the noise ordinance.
“That’s all [expletive],” Wilson said. “Look, we had some neighbors call us, and call me, to complain about kids riding their motorcycles in a couple of neighborhoods, so I asked our attorney to look into them to find one we might adapt. We’ll talk about it at some future workshop session. I don’t think any of us, right now, are even in favor of it.”
Town Board member Walt Lane said he was serving on the board under McVean’s tenure when a noise ordinance was briefly discussed after a family had been partying at night driving four wheelers, but the idea was rejected. He said 12-pages of rules is too much, and he doesn’t think the town probably needs a noise ordinance.
“There are already several raised eyebrows about this on the board that I know of,” Lane said. “I don’t think our town is citified enough to need that. Most of the people in our town live out in the boonies, if you’ll pardon my expression. [My wife] Sandy and I went for a ride today, out all around to the Town of Oppenheim and around Johnstown, and people live half a mile apart from each other.”
However, Lane said he feels Rizzo is taking the concept of discussing a noise ordinance too personally.
“He takes everything and personalizes it, and it doesn’t matter to him if it’s right or wrong or what anybody else thinks, if he thinks it’s wrong it’s wrong,” Lane said. “He’ll take information and change it to fit what he’s saying, it’s ridiculous.”
Rizzo said he thinks a noise ordinance would limit the freedoms of the people living in Johnstown to ride motorcycles and four wheelers and snowmobiles, and he’s mad the idea is being brought up.
“Shame on the ones who brought it forward to limiting our resident’s freedoms and rights,” he said.