Not long after the Medford Council began its discussion of whether to adopt the state’s noise ordinance, the many issues surrounding outdoor concerts came up at the July 5 Town Council meeting. Councilman Christopher Buoni provided background on this issue, voiced his concern and suggested council deal with this problem separately from the noise ordinance.
“The reason that this really got on our radar screen is we were contacted by a resident that has a disruptive neighbor that will continually put on concerts or have band practice all day,” Buoni said. “They’re not even able to have a moment of peace inside the walls of their own home.”
He went on to explain that, as much as he respects property rights, he believes if someone’s home is being invaded by noise to that extent and at all hours of the day, it is a real problem and involves the infringement of that resident’s rights. Buoni then asked the council to consider addressing this issue head-on and recommended council require permits of residents interested in hosting similar outdoor events.
“I think it is reasonable that if somebody wants to play music outside for an extended period of time, that they should seek permission from the township,” Buoni said. “We had a similar problem with a private venue up the road where we found out from them at the last minute that they were going to have an all-day music festival that required an obvious police presence. There were traffic considerations and the township was caught off guard by it.”
Buoni continued to explain that large outdoor events oftentimes bring with them a variety of issues. Again stressing he prefers to make this issue separate from the noise ordinance, he suggested if council deal with the noise issues stemming from these concerts, then the related traffic issues would subsequently be resolved.
“From an event planning standpoint, I can’t imagine [traffic] that would be an issue,” Councilman Frank Czekay said. “Unless you’re really planning [an event] 12 weeks out, you’re going to have a hard time getting it in front of the Zoning Board in time for something like that. I think that would put an unfair burden on people.”
Next, council discussed what really constitutes a concert, and Buoni voiced that in his opinion it should be defined as three or more musicians gathered outside playing. Then, another member of council questioned what if the noise was a result of a wedding or DJ playing? What if a neighbor just wanted to report noise out of spite? Czekay added that in these cases, a permit being required is simply unnecessary.
“For instance, the swim club across the street from my house, they have bands every once in awhile and they play for four or five hours, and yes, I can hear it across the street but it doesn’t bother me,” Czekay said. “I’m sure it bothers some people — but, they’re going to have to go get a permit now for this? I mean why? There’s no real traffic issue.”
“I’m not sure that I’m hearing a consensus among council to [address the issue that prompted the noise ordinance to begin with,]” Mayor Jeffrey Beenstock said.
Due to the lack of unanimity, the mayor suggested a sub-committee be formed to further consider the many issues caused by outdoor concerts. It was decided that on this sub-committee would be Buoni, Deputy Mayor Charles Watson and Police Chief Richard Meder. Together, they will work to decide whether this noise should be dealt with separately from the state noise ordinance, and if so, how.