By Kevin Boneske
HOBART – Construction work deemed to produce “loud, disturbing or unnecessary sounds or noises” in the village is being regulated under an ordinance approved Wednesday, Nov. 7, by the Hobart village board.
Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said the ordinance pertains to construction, demolition, excavation, alteration, repair of any building with rather unusual noise, concussions or disturbing sounds and the hours those noise-producing activities may take place.
“Really, we didn’t have anything that’s very specific, so this adds… a construction noise restriction component,” Kramer said.
The ordinance states the general prohibition on loud and unnecessary noise includes those sounds and noises which “may annoy or disturb a person of ordinary sensibilities in or about any public street, alley or park or any private residence,” unless specifically allowed.
Construction-related noise will be allowed under the ordinance from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sundays and public holidays.
The ordinance contains an exemption for municipal operations involving public utilities and public works projects during daytime hours Monday through Saturday, though that noise “shall be minimized through proper equipment operations and maintenance.”
Emergency short-term operations necessary to protect the health and welfare of citizens and any noise specifically required by law for the protection, health, welfare or safety of people or property will be exempted.
Other exemptions to the ordinance may be granted by the police chief, village administrator or their designees.
“If somebody has a compelling case, the police chief or the village administrator could grant them an exemption,” Kramer said. “(Somebody might say), ‘I’ve got to start a half-hour early. Can I start 15 minutes early?’ But it’s got to be compelling.”
Kramer said the ordinance meets the concerns voiced by village residents about construction noise and provides staff with “ammunition” to regulate those sounds.
He said the penalty for violating the ordinance will fall under the village’s general penalty clause with a forfeiture of not less than $20 nor more than $10,000 and the cost of prosecution.
Regarding farming operations in the village, Kramer said he doesn’t interpret the ordinance to have an impact of those types of activities.
“This is (an ordinance related to) construction, not agricultural operations – they can be as noisy as they want,” he said.
Board members also approved a pair of village code amendments related to their attendance at meetings.
They agreed to eliminate the 12-hour notice requirement to be excused from board meetings.
“Board members, who knew they were not going to be present, had a 12-hour window, if you will, they had to notify us,” Kramer said. “The literal interpretation is, if somebody didn’t do that, I’d have to tell Chief (Randy) Bani to write them a citation for violating the code. To me, that’s a bit Draconian, especially if something happens the day of a board meeting, whether it’s a health matter, a family matter, a car crash.”
Kramer noted the village code will still include language for board members to provide notification if they cannot attend a meeting.
The other village code change approved permits and regulates trustees participating in the open sessions of meetings via telephone or other means of telecommunications.
Trustees not physically present for a meeting may not count toward a quorum, which is a majority of the board members, to include the village president.
Trustees who attend via telecommunications will be required to attend the entire meeting in open session, rather than being able to attend for select items of interest and then disconnect.
They may participate in the debate the same as those present and vote at the appropriate time via roll call.
They would not be permitted to participate in a closed session and would be disconnected immediately after the board votes to go into closed session.
Trustees attending remotely would also not be permitted to participate in action upon the board reconvening into open session following a closed session.
Dec. 18 hearings
Board members set five public hearings for their Dec. 18 meeting.
Those hearing will include: an ordinance amending the current conditional use permit process to comply with state law; an ordinance to allow curb cuts larger than 40 feet in width for commercial and industrial developments in B-1, B-2, I-1, I-2, R-4, R-5 and R-6 districts; an ordinance to change the A-2 exclusive agriculture district minimum lot size to five acres from the current 35; and two ordinances to regulate short-term rentals in the village with respect to a state law that took effect last year.