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Hammer away

New London may allow earlier start to construction work

By Scott Bellile

A proposed ordinance amendment would move the permitted start time for construction projects ahead one hour to 6 a.m. in New London.

At New London Zoning Inspector Paul Hanlon’s request, the city planning commission authorized recommending the proposed amendment to the city council for readings.

The commission made the recommendation on a 5-0 vote on Thursday, July 27. Commissioners Ron Steinhorst, Gary Henke, Dona Gabert, Cindy Goller and Tom Spilman voted in favor of it. Steve Thompson and Doug Noel were absent.

The 6 a.m. start time amendment would get a reading by the city council in September along with a public hearing. Hanlon said if the council does not hear concerns from the residents at its September meeting, then it may approve the ordinance after one reading rather than the standard two.

In that case, Hanlon said the ordinance would be ready to take effect in October.

The city council meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The September meeting with the public hearing, although not officially scheduled yet, would likely take place Sept. 12.

Commission’s reasoning
Hanlon told the commission that Section 17.04-5(4) of the New London’s zoning code lays out acceptable decibel ranges within city limits between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Whereas contractors in other municipalities typically start construction projects at 6 a.m., Hanlon said workers in New London can’t begin their day until 7 a.m.

Contractors like to pour concrete earlier in the morning because the cooler temperatures slow down the speed at which the concrete sets, Hanlon said.

The later start time puts the city at a competitive disadvantage if a developer is deciding whether to bring a project to New London versus another community, Hanlon said.

Two projects are underway on Beacon Avenue: The Beacon Avenue Cottages affordable housing development, and a road widening and sanitary sewer replacement.

Hanlon said one of these is receiving “constant” noise complaints from one individual who says work is beginning too early, and “it just doesn’t make sense to fight this” anymore.

Hanlon said he does not enforce the noise ordinance strictly. But if a resident files a complaint, he is obligated to investigate it by conducting decibel readings at the appropriate time of day. If he finds an ordinance violation, he then is supposed to action.

“How did it come up?” Goller asked of the proposed amendment to the ordinance.

Hanlon said under the 7 a.m. start rules, a contractor at one of the construction projects is “getting killed over there” by a complainant because his vehicles have made noise at around 6:50 a.m.

“Have we nothing better in life to do?” Steinhorst asked.

The Press Star reached out to a resident who it believes might have filed the noise complaints but did not hear back on whether they were the individual before press time.

Hanlon, who has worked for the city since 1992, said the construction project going on now is the only one in his career he has ever received a noise complaint on.

Steinhorst asked if the ordinance change would be permanent. Hanlon said yes, although he noted that the amendment would more so prepare the city for the future. The brunt of the work on Beacon Avenue will be done by the time the 6 a.m. start time could take effect in October, he said.

After the meeting, Hanlon told the Press Star his intent is to make the city more user-friendly to contractors who just want to get their job done.

Beacon Avenue Cottages update
Hanlon told the committee the Beacon Avenue Cottages are “really coming together” and the units look “beautiful.”

The site superintendent was set to turn the development over to Commonwealth Development this week, Hanlon said.

The building structures are now standing but they are not finished yet. There is also landscaping work to do.

According to a Tuesday, Aug. 1 email announcement from the New London Area Chamber of Commerce, Beacon Avenue Cottages is now leasing for October move-ins. More information is available by calling Property Manager Jody Clouse at 608-422-0330.

The 40 cottage units will be distributed among three multi-family units on the north and south sides of Beacon Avenue. The one-level residences will be two- and three-bedroom units with an attached garage.

Henke said a Clintonville couple called to ask him how to sign a lease because they want to live closer to their doctor. He found this a “cool” thing to hear, as it’s an indication that the development’s word spreads beyond New London.

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