May 14, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
After months of work, the Cazenovia Town Board last week proposed two new local laws designed to maintain the public health, safety and welfare in the municipality — one to prevent and control excessive noise and one to establish procedures and requirements to hold special events.
The impetus to create the two proposed laws arose from the controversy between Owera Vineyards and its East Lake Road neighbors last summer due to the winery’s summer events — about which the neighbors complained of excessive amplified music, among other things, and Owera received violation citations from the town.
“The neighbors were concerned with the noise, mostly, at the winery and that their quality of life was suffering. They came to the board for relief, and this is the outgrowth of that,” said Town Supervisor Bill Zupan.
The new laws were officially presented to the public at the town board’s May 12 regular monthly meeting.
Proposed local law number 2, “A local law to enact a noise ordinance in the town of Cazenovia,” was created to “prevent unreasonably loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise levels within the town so as to preserve, protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare and to foster convenience, peace and quiet within the town by the inhabitants and transients thereof,” according to the law.
The seven-page law generally prohibits “the use of amplifiers, speaker or other machines or devices capable of reproducing sound from the premises, dwelling or building within the town” as being “unreasonable noise.” It also sets 15 exceptions to the law that include items such as agricultural equipment, church bells, emergency services noise, homeowners’ light residential equipment and noise from municipally-sponsored events.
Standards for noise emissions are set in the law for certain days and time periods within those days, and include the maximum number of decibels within those allotted periods.
The proposed law also allows for waivers to be granted by the town code enforcement officer (CEO) or the town board where enforcement of the law would “create an unnecessary hardship” on residents. Waivers can be received through a submitted application and with the payment of a fee to be determined by the town board.
Penalties for violating the noise ordinance are a fine of not more than $500 for the first offense, with subsequent offenses fined at not more than $2,500 per offense. If the violation is “continuing in nature,” each one-hour period of violation will constitute a separate, additional and distinct offense, according to the law.
Local law number 3, to repeal Chapter 56 of the town code and replace it with a new chapter to regulate special events within the town, is intended to “establish and lawful and appropriate procedures and requirements for conducting special events in the town of Cazenovia in order to preserve the health, safety and welfare of the town, its residents and visitors alike.
The 11-page law states that while the town board believes special events within the town “enrich and enhance” the quality of life for residents and provide a “positive contribution” to the character of the town, “without proper oversight, special events can be detrimental and negatively impact the peace, quiet, safety and well-being enjoyed by surrounding properties.
The law states that all special events, indoor or outdoor, having more than 100 people in attendance — as well as meeting certain other requirements — are prohibited unless a special event permit is received from, and a permit fee paid to, the town code enforcement officer. A number of events or activities are excepted from this law, including weddings, family gatherings, graduation parties and other similar events occurring the grounds of a private residence where no attendance fee is required.
Under the proposed law, the code enforcement officer may require the applicant to provide certification that written notice being sent to every adjoining property owner. The CEO also has the discretion to waive the application requirements under “appropriate conditions.”
The law also states that the granting of a special events permit is “a privilege and not a right,” and may be denied, revoked, suspended or modified if the applicant fails to comply with any aspect of the law. The law sets forth nine specific conditions on which a permit may be revoked, suspended or modified by the CEO.
Penalties for violating the special events law are the same as for the noise ordinance: A fine of not more than $500 for the first offense, with subsequent offenses fined at not more than $2,500 per offense. If the violation is “continuing in nature,” each one-hour period of violation will constitute a separate, additional and distinct offense, according to the law. The proposed penalty also includes, however, the remedy that the town may take the applicant to court to “compel compliance with or to restrain by injunction” for violating the law.
The proposed laws would not affect the village of Cazenovia, only the town of Cazenovia outside of the village limits, Zupan said.
Peter and Nancy Muserlian, owners of Owera Vineyards, attended the board meeting last week and raised concerns about the proposed laws. Peter Muserlian told the board, “I feel the noise ordinance and public event law violate Section 305-A [coordination of local planning and land use decision-making with the agricultural districts program] of the Ag and Markets Law.”
Nancy Muserlian also said she had “lots” of changes she would recommend to the town’s proposed law.
Juanita Critz, co-owner with her husband Matt of Critz Farms, also attended the May 12 meeting, after which she said she said she and her husband support the noise ordinance but think the proposed special events law is unnecessary.
“It seems that the only issues we have had in our community involving special events have been around the noise. The noise ordinance should solve this problem,” Critz said. “The proposed special events law, in its current form, is cumbersome, complicated and confusing. We do not expect the law to directly affect us because our direct farm marketing efforts through agri-tourism are allowable as a permitted use in an agricultural district. We are, however, concerned about how this law may affect tourism in our area.”
“The law as we present it is not set in stone,” Zupan said. “If we get lot of good feedback at the public hearings then well change the law and different aspects of it if we need to.”
The board has scheduled public hearings for each of the propose laws, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 9, at the start of the board’s regular monthly meeting.
The full text of both proposed laws is available on the town’s website at townofcazenovia.org or at the town office.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.