Franklin noise cap considered

FRANKLIN — Voters here will go to the polls Nov. 2 to decide whether the Planning Board should develop a noise ordinance to be considered at the town’s annual meeting in March.

The question made its way to the ballot following a citizens’ initiative petition that garnered 86 signatures.

The town does not have a noise ordinance in place. Franklin resident Debbie Carr told The American in July when the petition was still circulating that it was prompted by an application from TC Gravel, LLC, for a special exception permit for the development of a rock quarry on the South Bay Road.

That application went before the Planning Board in May during a public hearing in which the board asked the applicant to complete a sound study and water testing.

There have not yet been any subsequent Planning Board meetings on the application.

If the town does vote to approve the development of a noise ordinance, it would not stop the proposed quarry from going forward, but, “If any other quarries … or any other industrial-scale type operations want to come in, this will hopefully stop that,” Carr said.

The petition proposes in part for a sound decibel limit of 55dBa at the property line to abutting residential areas from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 45dBA from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

A Yale University decibel level comparison chart shows normal conversation averaging 60-70 dBA. A household refrigerator runs at about 55 dBA.

When the abutting uses are commercial, the ordinance would allow for 65dBA during the day and 55dBA at night. For industrial areas, 70dBA during the day and 60dBA at night is proposed.

Those sound levels come from a Technical Assistance Bulletin from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which explains the complications that can arise from noise disturbances and considerations to be made by municipal planning offices.

The bulletin was referenced in the petition that was circulated among Franklin voters.

“Noise has significant environmental impacts even though it is a transient occurrence,” it reads. “It does not accumulate in the environment, but its impacts can be long-lasting, affecting people’s lives and property values.”

Uses exempt from the proposed regulations include noises created by construction and temporary maintenance activities between 6:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., noises from safety signals and other emergency activities and “occasional sporting, cultural, religious or public events.”

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