Village Revises Noise Ordinance

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Village of New Paltz Board of Trustees passed an updated version of the Noise Control Law.

The draft proposal was revised on Friday, Jan. 13 and Monday, Jan. 16. This revised version will substitute for and replace Chapter 143 of the village code, Noise Control Law of the Village of New Paltz. Ultimately, the provisions of Chapter 143 of the Municipal Code, as enacted by Local Law No. 2 of the year 2003, are now repealed. 

The updated law provides added definitions, along with changes to the current definitions already included. Whereas the previous law had a total of eight definitions to utilize when interpreting and enforcing the law, there was a significant increase to 31 specified definitions.

With the addition of specific language, the New Paltz Police Department is now given a clearer direction as per how to deal with local businesses that become excessively noisy or provide nuisance to the community. The noise ordinance will also codify the procedures that the police department take currently in terms of notifying landlords. From this point forward, the new provisions will hold landlords accountable for repeat offenses of the law. 

As it stands, the procedure in which the police department takes regarding noise complaints consists of dispatching an officer to investigate and determine whether action is warranted. If the noise level is excessive, residents will receive a warning or might even face arrest. Notifications are made to landlords for both outcomes. In regards to students involved, the police department provides the names of any SUNY New Paltz student arrested for all offenses to the university.

According to the revised law, the Town of New Paltz Police Department is authorized to declare a building or establishment as “noisy and/or disorderly” and as such a threat to public safety. This occurs if there is an existence of one or more arrests and three or more documented chronic legitimate complaints to the Police Department regarding a pattern of excessive noise, open-container violations, assaults and/or general civil or criminal misconduct in a 30-day period. Or the existence of documented chronic 911 calls for police assistance or complaint-driven calls to other sources that are referred to the police department consisting of at least three legitimate calls in a thirty-day period.

The Town of New Paltz Police Department shall designate a premise noisy or disorderly by notice personally delivered to the property owner of record or by certified mail. In addition, if needed, the police department is granted the power to use such other methods of service for the aforementioned notice. Such notice shall request that the property owner attend an informal meeting with the police and other appropriate village officials to address the concerns that lead to the building or establishment being designated as noisy and/or disorderly. 

While New Paltz Police Chief Joseph Snyder admits that there is no specific location in which the violations occur, he observes a trend in noise complaints and pedestrian traffic when people, specifically college students, are walking to and from town.

Snyder laments, “It is important to remember that the hours that are lively for college age people are also hours for others to be sleeping, so we ask to keep that in mind while being out on the street.”

Residents of the village feel similarly as they began to thank the board for making the amendments to the law possible. 

New Paltz resident Ellen Rocco publicly spoke at a Village Board Planning Board meeting on Jan. 11. Rocco‚ comments went as far as to share her personal experience of working eight years on the noise ordinance. 

Rocco said, “It’s been eight years, It’s a long time coming.”

The Noise Control Law is officially local law #1 of 2017 and will be reflected in the Village Code online in February.