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MALTA – Residents and business owners in Malta are making noise about too much noise

Noise regulation has been an ongoing issue in the town of Malta, as residents and businesses embrace the presence of jackhammers, backhoes and the music of major construction underway right in their backyards.

But what began two years ago with residents of the Luther Forest neighborhood voicing complaints against relentless construction activity has since provoked changes to town law that some say goes too far.

Residents will have the chance to comment on the town’s amended noise ordinance during a public hearing on March 5 at 6:55 p.m. The draft on the table proposes limiting construction activity to between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and then 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, when construction activity is also prohibited within 500 feet of a residence without the resident’s written consent.

However, limitations  move beyond the realm of major construction activity to include “any source of sound” that creates more than 50 decibels between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. or 60 decibels between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. when measured at or beyond the property boundary of an adjacent property.

To offer a reference point, a power lawn mower or snow blower can generate more than 100

“It’s not my neighbor using a leaf blower or putting a roof on that’s the problem, it is the major construction – the apartment complexes going up in our backyard – that we are talking about,” said Patti Heidlemark.

Heidlemark, a homeowner on May Apple Way, is among a group of residents that have been voicing complaints to the town board for the past two years. Their neighborhood abuts construction of Ellsworth Commons.

“We originally asked the town board to change the ordinance because Ellsworth Commons was literally being built in our backyard seven days a week 14 hours a day,” she said. “We wanted relief on weekends from major construction, but they are making this much bigger than it needs to be, which is typical of the town of Malta these days.”

However, there are exceptions. Residents can complete work on their home that exceeds the permitted noise level and time restrictions if they obtain written consent from their neighbors and submit it to the town’s code enforcement office.

“The town’s code enforcement officers may permit temporary use […] if anyone objected or needed to get a waiver to work on Sundays,” she explained. “So, I believe this law is flexible and it also is going to give our neighbors the relief on Sundays that they were asking for.”
However, Heidlemark asserts that, once again, the issue is not with her neighbors.

“If I had a problem with my neighbor I would work it out with them,” she said. “We have lost common sense.”

Members of the local business community share this sentiment – concern that the town is headed toward “nonsensical” overregulation.

Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, has been working with the Malta Business and Professional Association (MBPA) to help the town achieve a solution that is beneficial for residents and business owners.

“I would say there is a need for some additional regulations, just not these,” Shimkus said.
He is fearful that such strict noise-limitations could make it difficult for local businesses, specifically contractors and landscapers, to conduct daily functions, and that it could even deter new business from moving into Malta.

“They are going down a path that attempts to regulate virtually every activity that makes noise by any resident at any time – it almost sounds like something you would see if we were talking about the people’s republic of Malta,” Shimkus said.

But according to Thomas, “Malta is open for business.” She does not believe restrictions have deterred development in the town, based on growth in the Exit 11 and Exit 12 area, where approved planned development district projects have been subject to specific restrictions on weekend activity.

“We refocused our efforts and are addressing what we were asked to address,” Thomas said.

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