Have Still Not Been Addressed by City Council
When I saw the headline of your recent front-page article, “City Enacts Stricter Blasting and Rock-Chipping Regulations and Sets Big Fines”, I was hopeful that the City Council was finally doing something about this serious health hazard. Upon reading the article, however, I was disappointed to see that the new law enacted by the Council is still totally inadequate.
The new law permits 15 days of rock chipping not to exceed 130 decibels. Was the City Council unaware that noise above 85 decibels causes hearing loss? The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recommends that noise levels be reduced or hearing protection used whenever a noise level exceeds 85 decibels for any length of time. The CDC states that hearing loss is possible in less than 2 minutes if you are exposed to noise above 110 decibels.
According to the CDC, “noise-induced hearing loss can lead to communication difficulties, learning difficulties, pain or ringing in the ears (tinnitus), distorted or muffled hearing, and an inability to hear some environmental sounds and warning signals.”
Rye’s rock chipping laws, old and new, are in conflict with other provisions of the Rye City Code. Section 133-1 states that, “the creation of any unreasonably loud, disturbing, and unnecessary noise is prohibited. Noise of such character, intensity, and duration as to be detrimental to the life or health of any individual is prohibited.” Clearly, rock chipping at up to 130 decibels is detrimental to health, and it cannot responsibly be argued that it is “necessary” because the noise can be abated.
There are numerous existing noise control systems (for example, modular acoustic screens, baffles, quilted fiberglass panels, acoustic foam panels, etc.) that are available to homeowners and developers to abate the noise from rock chipping. Of course, they resist this solution because abating the noise adds to the cost of construction.
Unfortunately, there is a financial incentive to engage in rock chipping. Homeowners and developers can add to the size of a house — and its value — without the need for a variance, by adding “bonus rooms” in the basement.
One final thought: Under Rye City Code, Section 133-2, “The keeping of any animal or bird” is a prohibited act if “by causing frequent or long-continued noise, [it] shall disturb the comfort and repose of any person in the vicinity.” It is absurd that Rye prohibits chirping birds and barking dogs, when it is doing nothing to protect our families and our children from the serious health hazard of rock chipping.
The City Council should get serious about this problem and enact a new law that permits rock chipping only when the noise is abated to a level below 85 decibels.
- David A. Cutner