Town To Consider Creating Noise Bylaw, Will Help Police When Responding To Complaints

WILMINGTON, MA — The Town of Wilmington does not currently address noise complaints in its inhabitant bylaws, but that may soon change.

The Inhabitant Bylaw Study Committee, chaired by Town Clerk Christina Touma-Conway,  has asked the Board of Selectmen to consider endorsing a proposed bylaw change that would aim to limit noise related to construction.

“Citizens came to the Inhabitant Bylaw Study Committee to express concern over construction noise in their neighborhood, but we have no noise bylaws on the books right now” explained Touma-Conway. “The Committee considered whether to recommend an overall noise bylaw that dealt with an assortment of noises or just limit the bylaw to construction noise.”

Touma-Conway explained that, upon the recommendation of Police Chief Joe Desmond, the Committee opted to focus exclusively on construction noise.

“Chief Desmond feels there are other laws in place that can address other noise issues,” noted Touma-Conway. “[The Chief] is proposing time restrictions on when construction can occur, but also allows for some flexibility with the chief being able to grant waivers under necessary circumstances.”

Selectman Jonathan Eaton indicated he would prefer the Committee reconsider their decision to focus just on construction noise.

“If the noise in your neighborhood is bothering you, you don’t care if it’s construction noise or some other noise. It’s still noise,” said Eaton. “If I’m getting woken up at 5am on a Saturday, and it’s by something that’s not technically in the definition of construction equipment, I don’t really care, and I’d be upset that the town says the can’t do anything about it since it’s not construction equipment.”

“I’d rather not draft a noise bylaw that is reliant upon other provisions to enforce the intent of it,” concluded Eaton. “I’d rather have a bit of a broader stroke.”

Eaton researched noise bylaws in other nearby communities. He pointed to Tewksbury as a possible model, noting their bylaw pertain to – but it not limited to — “outdoor sound amplifying equipment, motor vehicles, trucks, construction and demolition equipment, industrial and commercial sources of sound, and other manmade sounds that cause noise.”

Selectmen Chair Greg Bendel concurred with his colleague.

“My concern would be we’re specifically targeting the construction community, which makes up a lot of our community here,” said Bendel. “There’s such a short window with weather here in New England for them to do their jobs. That’s my only initial concern.”

Inhabitant Bylaw Study Committee John Romano noted the committee supported the Chief’s recommendation, but wouldn’t be opposed to a broader policy.

“We zoomed in on construction because the Chief said that’s what he felt was needed,” said Romano. “He felt his department already has the ability to handle general noise issues.”

Two Dog Bylaw Changes Too

The Inhabitant Bylaw Study Committee is proposing a bylaw change that will allow for dogs on the town-owned land adjacent to Town Beach. Touma-Conway noted there are several benches on the properties around the beach that attract dog walkers. Dog owners would still need to follow the leash law and would be required to clean up after their dogs. Dogs would continue to remain banned on the actual beach from May 1 to October 1.

The Committee is also looking to include clarifying language in the bylaws surrounding the Animal Control Officer’s ability to write certain citations for dog matters, including tethering and leaving dogs in warm cars. Town Counsel is advising on the matter.

Selectmen will determine which proposed bylaw changes will be voted on at the 2020 Annual Town Meeting at its next meeting on Monday, January 27, 2020. The Bylaw Study Committee is expected to submit updated recommendations at that meeting.

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