DPW seeks exemption from noise ordinance
By SARAH LEBRUN
Complaints from some Goffstown residents have prompted the Department of Public Works to request a change in the town’s noise ordinance that would officially exempt them from the law.
According to Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux and director of Public Works Carl Quiram, the DPW has always been unofficially exempt from the ordinance. “Because we get the occasional complaints, we’re just trying to make this crystal clear,” said Quiram. “(The ordinance) is more for nuisance noise.”
But many people do not see the Department of Public Works as exempt from the law.
In a letter dated Sept. 27, 2005, former Police Chief Michael French wrote to Quiram, “(A) written complaint alleges that the Town Recycle Truck was in operation at 6:45 AM in the area of Elm Street. Since the operation of the trash or recycle truck does not constitute an emergency exception please assure that your drivers adhere to the ordinance.”
“I do not believe any entity other than what the noise ordinance currently states should be exempt from (this),” said selectmen Chairman Nick Campasano.
“When the proposal came from Public Works to exempt them from the noise ordinance, my question was, ‘Why? What is driving this?’” One Goffstown resident, Wayne Perreault, is so concerned that he paid for an advertisement in The Goffstown News encouraging people to attend the Feb. 23 hearing at 7 p.m. at the town offices.
“Do you want your recycling and trash picked up before 7 a.m.? How loud would it sound at 5 a.m., 5:30 a.m. or 6 a.m.?” the ad reads.
“Recycling is not an emergency situation and should not be given any special exception,” said Perreault.
Perreault is also concerned that the department is looking to begin pick-up earlier so they can go home earlier.
“I have no problem that they have a contract and that they get out early,” said Perreault. “But if they start early and are exempt from the noise ordinance, they’ll be rushing and getting done faster. If there’s no traffic, they’re going to fly.”
According to Quiram, this pick up and go home policy is part of the department’s collective bargaining agreement and has been in place since the 1980s.
“The incentive is there to get them as efficient as we possibly can,” said Quiram.
According to Quiram, Goffstown has one trash truck and one recycling truck, and trash pick-up begins Tuesday through Friday at 6 a.m. – one hour before quiet hours are over. The drivers each work four 10-hour days and make 1,100 to 1,200 stops each day.
“Is he exempt or isn’t he exempt?” said Desruisseaux. “Ordinances should be written very clearly so everyone can understand them. That’s the reason for revisiting this.”
“I’m not 100 percent sure we even need the exemption. We’ve always been under the impression we were exempt from it anyway,” said Quiram. “We’re not really looking to change any of our practices. We’re just looking to reconcile the noise ordinance with our practice.”
Currently, the noise ordinance is in effect from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. for radios, phonographs, yelling and singing on public streets; and 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. for loud construction equipment. The only entities the ordinance spells out as being exempt are emergency vehicles and snow plow operations within 72 hours after a storm.
Quiram said the reason the daily routes begin so early is to get in and out of the school and off the main roads before children and school buses are out and before traffic gets too heavy on the main road.
A decision on the ordinance will not be made until March 9.