Town quieter, but more noise expected as weather warms

May 07, 2006|By JENNIFER FITCH


It's a simple correlation, they say, that when the weather gets warmer, the vehicle windows go down and the level of noise from stereos goes up.

That noise briefly morphed into the sound of a freight train as Nancy Sheffler spoke last week while at her business on East Main Street.

"It's not as bad as it used to be," she said as the rumble dissipated inside Sheffler's Uniform Shop.

Nerves don't seem to be as rattled as windows in the 10,000-person borough that late last summer adopted an ordinance giving local police the authority to file charges if stereos can be heard within 50 feet.


Two citations have been filed since then, the police chief said.

"We have to hear it, or we have to have the testimony of the other person, complainant," Chief Ray Shultz said.

"I would have expected more cases to be filed, especially in the downtown area," said Councilman Allen Berry, who commented that he hears stereos from vehicles six or seven car lengths away while driving downtown.

Several people said the windows in their homes and businesses tremble from stereos, but often, they don't even notice.

"I don't think it affects business," said Adam Long of Total Vac on West Main Street.

"I think you tune it out," Faye Long said, although she agreed with Jennifer Arnold, her colleague at the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library, that it's going to get worse.

"I'm inclined to agree with her," Long said. "The warmer the weather, the more you're going to see it."

"I think the noise has definitely gotten better," Councilman Allen Porter said. "You don't hear the vehicles like you did before, but we're getting into ... summer."

As long as traffic keeps moving, the noise is bearable, but congestion on Main and Potomac streets often leaves vehicles idling outside stores, businesspeople said.

James Shoes on West Main Street is affected by stopped traffic at the intersection of those streets, Barbara Chandler said.

"(Noise) bounces off our building," Chandler said.

Occasionally, vehicles end up stuck outside The Window Store & More on West Main Street, and the stereos can be heard in the back of the store, which extends an entire block north, Penny Waters said.

"When it gets warmer, you notice it," she said. "It's not as bad when the kids are in school."

"I've heard a lot in the past week," Councilman Craig Newcomer said. "It's gotten worse. I'm very surprised there were only two (citations)."

"The morning's not so bad. It's the afternoons, especially 3 to 5," said Dave Sanders of Sanders Furniture Refinishing on East Main Street.

Local resident Debra Brand said the worst of the noise problems comes in the evening, but she mostly is concerned that the drivers with loud music won't hear emergency vehicles or horns, and as a result cause an accident.

In addition to enacting the noise ordinance last year, the borough council adopted an obstruction ordinance that increased the fine for loitering from $10 to $50, and spelled out prohibited activities, including loitering, wandering, standing or remaining idle in a manner that obstructs any public street, highway or sidewalk.

Borough police officers were instructed to first ask the violators to move along. They have given warnings, but not issued any citations for violations of that ordinance, Shultz said.

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