Council tables vote on noise ordinance veto

  • Hillary Hoffman, Vice President, Precinct 6<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Isaac Mass.
  • Mark Maloni, At Large<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Marian Kelner, Precinct 1<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Patrick Devlin, At Large<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

GREENFIELD — Town Council has eight to 10 days left to vote on whether it will override the mayor’s veto of a noise ordinance it passed in June.

The ordinance, which has been criticized by several town leaders as being too broad, too vague and difficult to enforce, was written by Town Council President Hillary Hoffman and several other councilors who served on the Appointments and Ordinances Committee with her last year.

Hoffman suggested Wednesday night that the council override the mayor’s veto and then rescind its vote to pass the ordinance, but At-large Councilor Isaac Mass, who is a lawyer, told the council he believed such an action would not be legal.

Mass said overriding the mayor’s veto would mean the ordinance would immediately become law and would need to go through a process of public hearings and a council vote to remove it.

So, until the council either overrides or sustains the mayor’s veto, the new noise ordinance is in limbo.

In the meantime, the council decided to table the override vote with a 6-6 tie that was broken by Hoffman.

During an hour-long discussion, councilors, even those who wanted to override the mayor’s veto and allow the ordinance to become law voiced concerns about the poor wording of the ordinance and the problems and issues it might create for the town if passed.

Two councilors, Precinct 7 Councilor and Vice President Karen “Rudy” Renaud and At-large Councilor Mark Maloni, changed their votes on Wednesday from the ones they took in June.

Renaud voted against the ordinance in June, but said this week that she was voting selfishly then, because she doesn’t have a problem with noise where she lives. She said she feels she needs to think about the interest of the entire community.

Maloni, who voted for the ordinance in June after suggesting a couple of amendments, said after thinking about it, he had to sustain the mayor’s veto and start over, because the ordinance is too vague.

Precinct 1 Councilor Marian Kelner said she hoped to keep the ordinance in place and amend it as necessary, saying that the town needs a noise ordinance to satisfy the many people who expressed a desire for such an ordinance.

According to town records, 17 of the town’s residents spoke in favor of the ordinance at public hearings that were held on the matter, but it is not clear how many others sent letters or emails of concern to individual councilors.

While most councilors agreed Wednesday that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the town to have some sort of noise ordinance, many said that the one voted in June needs a lot more work.

At-large Councilor Patrick Devlin said the next time around, Appointments and Ordinances needs to work closely with police, town inspectors, the mayor and anyone else who might be involved in enforcement of a noise ordinance — something that didn’t happen with the current one.

Some councilors also suggested that the committee check with other town boards, like the Board of License Commissioners, to see if some aspects of a noise ordinance might conflict with licensing practices of the town.

While Hoffman said she agreed that the ordinance voted in June was pushed forward too quickly, she was not willing to vote to repeal it and start over at this point.

Hoffman said she doesn’t like the idea that according to Town Council rules of procedure, if the council votes to sustain the mayor’s veto, it cannot discuss a new noise ordinance for nine months.

At-large Councilor Dalton Athey said that the council could waive its rules and that it could do so for the ordinance, which would allow it to go to committee at any time.

Hoffman and the six councilors — Kelner, Renaud, Precinct 2 Councilor Alfred Siano, At-large Councilor Patrick Devlin, Precinct 8 Councilor Karen Shapiro Miller, Precinct 9 Councilor Norman Hirschfeld — who voted to table the veto vote on Wednesday said they’d like time to do some research on some of the legal issues brought up at the meeting before deciding whether to override or sustain the mayor’s veto.

It appears the council will have to hold a special meeting and take that vote by the end of next week or the mayor’s veto stands.

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