RUMFORD — Mexico Planning Board member Albert Aniel presented a proposed noise ordinance to selectmen Thursday night, explaining it was drafted because of the "hoopla" about the wind industry.
“Basically, this is the result of all the hoopla we've had about the wind industry and noise issue,” he said.
“We all agree we would like to have some economic development in our area. I think we can also agree that no matter what development comes here, no matter what it is, it could be a saw mill, it could be a motorcycle repair shop — hopefully Harleys — that it doesn't create any noise that's intrusive to its neighbors,” he said.
“This document says that we welcome any development as long as it's not greater than 5 decibels above the background noise during the day and it's not greater than 3 decibels over background noise at night,” Aniel said.
“It doesn't pick on any industry. Basically, it says we want to protect our citizens from intrusive noise.”
The document, he said, would restrict continuous noise from any proposed development to no more than 5 decibels over the background sound from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and no greater than 3 decibels over background sound from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the development's property line.
It states that background sound is defined over a continuous 10-minute period as the average sound level during the quietest one-continuous minute of the 10 minutes.
“It refers to sound that is normally present at least 90 percent of the time,” the document states. “It excludes intermittent sounds from flora, fauna, wind, rain, and human activity.”
As an example, Aniel said the background sound could be 65 decibels. With the ordinance he's proposing, that example could be no higher than 70 decibels during the day and 68 at night.
Aniel said the noise ordinance would apply to any proposed development to be located in zones such as rural, two different classifications of residential, commercial, downtown commercial or industrial.
Knowing Mexico has industrial, commercial, residential and rural sections, Aniel said he researched the noise issue, such as when it becomes a nuisance, intrusive and affects sleep.
Following the presentation, Dr. Aniel asked selectmen if they had any questions.
“We don't have zoning in Rumford,” Selectman Mark Belanger said.
Aniel seem surprised and suggested selectmen start work to bring zoning to town.
“You need to have a certain sense where you want to expand industrial and residential areas,” he said.
“Has this been approved by any towns in the state?” board Chairman Brad Adley asked.
“No,” Aniel said.
Resident Candace Casey raised the issue of noise generated by people who heat their homes with wood using chain saws and wood splitters, or running skidders and other such logging equipment.
“How would our major timber harvests be affected by this?” she asked.
Aniel said the ordinance doesn't address that, but rather continuous noise.
Another Rumford resident then said, “Zoning hasn't gone over very well in this town and it never has, so that shouldn't even be brought up.”
He suggested selectmen get a copy of a Public Broadcasting System program on Channel 10 Wednesday night on the wind power noise issue.
“They had an acoustical engineer on and there definitely is a problem with the noise, but that's because it's a constant noise,” he said.
He told the board to have the program played on the local access channel for the public to understand.
Selectmen took no action on Aniel's proposal, because they can't, Selectman Jeff Sterling said prior to the presentation.
Two public hearings must be held prior to the board's vote in April on whether to put it on the June town meeting ballot.