Hearing set for June 10 to raise Ogdensburg's allowable noise level, allow exceptions for events
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 9:30 am

By JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week

OGDENSBURG – Ogdensburg will hold a public hearing June 10 on a proposal to change the city charter after to allow for higher minimum noise levels and provide council the ability to grant exceptions for events.

The resolution was brought forward by councilors Dan Skamperle and David Price Monday following a public hearing held to address the denial of Everything 4 Entertainment’s registration to use amplified sound equipment denial.

Joe Howe, a partner in Everything 4 Entertainment, said if the charter is changed, it will be the last major hurdle in the way of holding a music festival that would bring a national act to the city.

The current noise ordinance allows no sound emanating from sound amplifying equipment that exceeds 15 dBa above the ambient as measured at any property line.

Price said 15 dbA is equivalent to a whisper. He said that means anyone running a lawnmower, which puts out about 90 dBa would be guilty of violating the current city code.

The proposal crafted by Skamperle and Price would elevate the allowable noise level to 105 dBa at any given property line, but also create a means to override that limit for events such as concerts, parades and the Seaway Festival.

Skamperle said the current noise ordinance was arbitrary and capricious.

The resolution would also change who approves a sound amplification registration from the chief of police to the city manager, however that part of the resolution drew concern from Mayor Wayne Ashley, Councilor Jennifer Stevenson and City Manager Sarah Purdy.

Skamperle and Price said that change was intended to streamline the process, but both were willing to reconsider that part of the resolution at the June 10 hearing.

Two city residents spoke in favor of changing the charter to allow for higher decibel levels in order to allow for major events in the city that have the potential to bring in revenue.

Former City Councilor Doug Sholette, Ogdensburg, spoke at the meeting. He said he now resides in Hilton, where the fire department regularly holds concerts that exceed the allowable noise ordinance. He said lawmakers there do not enforce the ordinance, because the events are a benefit to the municipality. He urged city council to change the charter to ensure events that can generate revenue for the city can be held.

Also speaking in support of the change was a city resident who pointed out various ways to mitigate sound.

Howe said he would be very satisfied if the city passes the resolution proposed by Skamperle. He said that would be the last major issue he foresees in bringing the festival to life. Howe has been working with city since December to meet all necessary requirements imposed by the city, department of public health and other government bodies.

“It’s been a process, but after this I think we will be where we need to be,” he said.