WLB council sets 8 p.m. for quiet time

Mayor confident that law won

BY SUE M. MORGAN Staff Writer

Staff Writer

WEST LONG BRANCH — Mayor John Paolantonio Jr. is confident that residents will not use the borough’s new noise ordinance as “sour grapes” against their neighbors.

Despite the concerns expressed by a handful of residents during a June 15 hearing on the measure, the Borough Council, after some hesitation, unanimously approved the ordinance that sets 8 p.m. as the cut-off time for any noise that could possibly prove to be a nuisance to others.

The approved ordinance, which also limits the time during which any hammering, drilling, construction, excavating or demolition work can take place in town, amends an ordinance already on the books by rolling back the former curfew of 10 p.m. by two hours.

The borough police department will be responsible for enforcing the ordinance, and will exercise common sense in doing so, Paolantonio told the concerned residents, mainly from Maryland and Delaware avenues.

“We’re not going to turn it into a police state,” the mayor said.

Though a few council members had reservations, the mayor encouraged the governing body to forge ahead with a vote on the new curfew.

Many of the noises described in the amended ordinance, particularly construction sounds such as hammering and the use of power tools, can be heard frequently during the longer summer evenings, Paolantonio pointed out.

The Maryland and Delaware Avenue residents, many of them parents of young children and teenagers, speculated that spiteful neighbors might use the amended law to retaliate against them.

A portion of the printed ordinance prohibiting any “yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing in the public streets” between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. in a manner that “annoys or disturbs the quiet, comfort or repose” of others, could be interpreted literally by some, those residents said.

Paolantonio, however, who owns a service station in town, says the law is meant to be used in legitimate cases, not for spite.

“[The residents] thought it could be used between neighbors,” Paolantonio said. “That’s not what we wanted.”

Noise emanating from events such as this week’s annual Community Center Fair and sporting competitions at area schools and municipal fields will not be

cited under the new law, the mayor said.

“They wouldn’t be affected,” Paolantonio said. “The police department will use their discretion.”

The revisions were initiated by the council after several South Arlene Drive residents complained at meetings last fall about loud drilling, hammering, and other construction-related sounds coming from the site of a Route 36 storage facility after 10 p.m.

The law is intended to ensure that construction, demolition and excavation activities only occur between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. so as not to disturb borough residents in the future, council members have said.

The measure also prohibits the operation of a “radio receiving set, television, musical instrument, phonograph, or other machine or device” at a volume that would be “clearly audible at a distance of 100 feet from the building, structure, or vehicle in which it is located.”

Also, horns on vehicles are only to be used to warn of “impending danger” to other drivers or pedestrians, and not for any “unnecessary or unreasonable period of time,” according to the ordinance.

Those parts of the ordinance pertaining to music and recording devices were based upon State v. Clarksburg Inn, a Millstone Township noise ordinance which was recently upheld in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey, according to Borough Attorney Gregory Baxter.