The residents of Fairfield may face restrictions on lawn maintenance and other noisy activities on weekends and weekdays, following proposed changes to the town’s noise ordinance. The changes include the “plainly audible standard” instead of the need to measure decibels, and set times for certain activities. The new ordinance aims to give authorities more leeway to punish people causing a disturbance.
The Plainly Audible Standard
The proposed noise ordinance replaces the decibel measurement with the “plainly audible standard.” This means that if a police officer can easily hear music through a speaker, they can take enforcement action. The standard mainly covers music and sound amplification devices.
Set Times for Certain Activities
The changes to the noise ordinance also include set times for certain activities. Lawn and home maintenance, music, power tools, and horn blaring are restricted until 8 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on weekends. Previously, the ordinance listed only daytime and nighttime as restrictions.
Reasons for the Changes
The proposed changes to the noise ordinance are a result of an increase in residents’ noise complaints, especially in the beach area and the neighborhood around Burr Homestead. The town-owned building hosts events that have spurred complaints from nearby residents about loud music. One resident even joked that she knew an event was about to end when she heard “Shout” by the Isley Brothers playing from the speakers there a block away.
Limitations of the Police Department
The police department is limited in its ability to enforce the noise ordinance because it has only one sound meter. Officers often opt to use state statutes when issuing violations, calling the current ordinance onerous.
The addition of set times during the daytime when residents can create certain types and levels of noise caused some contention in the discussion. Republicans opposed the 6 p.m. cutoff on weekends for landscaping-related sound, stating that people should not be restricted in the use of their property. They were concerned the proposed ordinance could infringe on people’s freedoms.
Support for the Changes
Democrats spoke in support of the changes, including Michelle Lapine McCabe from District 4, who said the proposal has relatively modest changes to what is already on the books, adding she does not see them as overly dramatic. She said extending it to daylight hours makes sense given there are more people working from home now. Dru Mercer Georgiadis, a member from the District 9 who lives in the beach area, said people need to know the rules so they can respect them.
The proposed changes to the noise ordinance are a result of an increase in noise complaints from residents. While some people believe the new restrictions are an infringement on their freedoms, others support the changes and say they are necessary to maintain consistency and reduce disturbances.