The Council Room at City Hall was filled the night of June 10, primarily with residents who came out to offer their views on the increased rock chipping that is a result of the all the new residential construction in town.
By Robin Jovanovich
The Council Room at City Hall was filled the night of June 10, primarily with residents who came out to offer their views on the increased rock chipping that is a result of the all the new residential construction in town. There were also a number of local developers in the audience.
Councilman Richard Slack led the presentation of the progress made to date by the City-appointed committee asked to study the issue and its impact on the community. He noted that their actual report was expected soon.
Under Rye’s current laws, there is no duration limitation on rock chipping. Councilman Slack said the City proposes a 30-day calendar for any future construction project to complete its rock chipping, and a reduced hour schedule. Under the City Code, weekday construction hours are 9 to 5. The Council is in favor of limiting rock chipping hours to 9 to 3:30.
The City Council is also in favor of noticing neighbors ten days in advance of rock chipping — currently, no notification is required; restricting it over Thanksgiving weekend and the week between Christmas and New Year’s; disallowing any rock crushing on a job site; and only allowing one rock chipper per site.
“When you look at this as a package,” said Councilman Slack, “if passed it will be a tremendous benefit to the community and unprecedented in Westchester.”
The Council then opened the floor for public comment.
Lori Fontanes said that developers talk about their rights, “but what about the rights of others — mothers who want to open a window, residents who want a safe sound balance?”
Bob Marrow, a resident since 1976, said that his Greenhaven neighborhood has been living in a construction war zone with no end. “The vibration of rock chipping has made it impossible for residents to enjoy life. There should be some limit on project duration.”
Tracy Stora thanked Mayor Sack for starting the discussion on this issue but said she disagreed with passing a 30-day moratorium “until more consideration was given to health and safety issues.” She pointed to public studies assessing the hearing damage that can occur from extended construction noise and the resulting dust that can build to dangerous levels in the air we breathe.
Paul LaBossiere, who lives on Highland Road, many houses away from the more than year-long new construction project on Highland that stirred up community protest on rock chipping, said that with his windows and doors closed he could not even think. The former Navy pilot, who said he was familiar with noise, suggests putting a limit on noise, not time.
Allen Clark said that we should be balancing all the construction over the last decade with ten years of silence.
After listening to longtime builder Stanley Kotyza, who lives in Rye, and Paul Varsames, who has an office in Rye, concur that some kind of legislation is needed on rock chipping and blasting but ask for flexibility as their projects are routinely delayed by public utility companies and breaking machinery, the Council voted unanimously to pass a moratorium, effective June 17 for a six-month time period, limiting rock chipping to 30 days, giving them time to craft new legislation.
The Council set the public meeting for its next meeting, July 8.