Chatham tries talking about noise, not outlawing it

CHATHAM – Last week’s Village Board meeting started with a public hearing for a village noise ordinance, but the measure was tabled when it became clear that the noise issues being addressed had to do with the reaction of Hudson Avenue residents to loud patrons outside a bar and restaurant across the street, something that might better be worked out between the bar owner and the neighbors.

During the regular meeting Thursday, December 8, the board appointed Barbara Fischer village clerk and hired Ann Marshall a part-time treasurer. The trustees debated pay rates for the positions at the open meeting, finally giving Ms. Fischer, currently the deputy village clerk, a raise to $18, with all the benefits available to full-time village employees. The village will pay Ms. Marshall $22.49 an hour as a part-time employee with no benefits.

Carol Simmons, the current clerk/treasurer, is retiring at the end of the month after over 19 years with the village. The board decided to separate her positions instead of having Mr. Fischer take on all of Mr. Simmons responsibilities in January.

The board is also paying for a new computer program for the treasurer through Enhance Business Systems and will hire Sickler, Torchia, Allen & Churchill, a Hudson accounting firm that uses the software, to help train Ms. Marshall on the program at the cost of approximately $1,000 a month.

Board member Joanne DelRossi said that as Ms. Marshall gets familiar with the program and uses the support less, that expense will go down and finally be a yearly maintenance cost for the software.

There was some debate over Ms. Fischer’s pay. Ms. DelRossi proposed $16/hour originally, which would have been a $2 increase from Ms. Fischer’s current salary.

“I do not think that $2… is fair,” Ms. Fischer told the board, “January 1 I’m taking on a lot.”

The $18 salary was passed with three votes on the five-member board: Trustees, Lael Locke, George Grant and Dave Chapman voted for it, while Ms. DelRossi and Mayor Tom Curran voting against.

The next major issue the board discussed was a proposal by the state to move the southeastern end of Main Street so that it intersects with Hudson Avenue /Route 66 next to MJ’s Bar and Grill. The current crossing over the CSX railroad tracks would be closed. Traffic lights or stop signs would be installed at the new intersection.

Mayor Curran said that the state Department of Transportation originally proposed putting traffic lights at the existing intersection of Main Street, Hudson Avenue, Route 203 and Park Row, all of which would turn red when trains neared the crossing.

“DOT is not happy with the lights,” he told the board, “so they are willing to look at alternatives.”

The mayor said DOT has not asked the village for any decisions; state officials just want to know whether the board is open to discussion of reconfiguring traffic and roadways. All board members except Mr. Grant agreed to discuss the issue further with the state. Mr. Grant said there is nothing wrong with the intersection as it is now.

As for the noise ordinance, no board member, including Ms. Locke who helped research and write a proposed local noise law, agreed with the hours proposed in the draft read by lawyer Ted Guterman, who was filling in for his partner, Village Attorney R. Nelson Alford. Under the draft, loud noise from music would have to end by midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends in commercial districts. And noise from snow blowers and lawn mowers had to stop at 9 p.m.

Most people thought the hours where not sufficient and that lowering the sound level would be difficult. Trustee DelRossi asked if Mike Bemiss, the owner of MJ’s Bar and Grill on Hudson Avenue, could meet with neighbors on the street to work out a way to keep down the noise level inside and outside the bar. Police Chief Kevin Boehme said he would also attend that meeting.

Mayor Curran asked the neighbors to report back after at the next board meeting in January. The board will be met Thursday January 12 at 7:30pm in the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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