Enforcement, ordinances, and bond issues also considered
By JEFF EPSTEIN
WEST WINDSOR, Vt. – Loud noises on and around Cemetery Road are keeping people up at night, and they don’t like it.
About a dozen people showed up at the select board meeting Monday to make it clear that they are concerned about the problem.
More than one household is involved, but a particular residential house on Cemetery Road seems to be the source of most of the noise, with apparent target practice of hours-long rifle volleys, plus fireworks and general loud noises, sometimes into the wee hours of the night. The house and its owners were not identified during the meeting, but town officials apparently know what house it is.
“In at least one case we have a property owner that doesn’t seem to care,” said board chair Win Johnson.
Neighbors described busy activity particularly over the December holiday period, describing it with firework terms such as “starbursts,” “M-80,” and “M-200”.
Johnson has also heard noises, and described what he heard as “large caliber, semi-automatic” gunfire.
Police Chief Bill Sampson was on hand to answer questions, most of which centered on what can be done.
As far as fireworks ordinances are concerned, “we have to catch them in the act,” he said. For certain violations, however, such as disturbing the peace, submitted evidence such as photography along with a written complaint may be sufficient to issue a citation. The violation is a misdemeanor, he said.
But the law isn’t very specific, Sampson noted. The basic legal standard is “reasonableness,” he said, “It’s kind of a fine line on encroaching on people’s rights.” Of course, he added, people who want to sleep and use property safely also have rights.
West Windsor does not have a noise ordinance that would address the issue, Johnson said. He suggested creating one.
The board agreed to see what it could do on its own authority and how it might assist the police with enforcement.
In a separate police item, the board encouraged Sampson and Fire Chief Michael Spackman to use the new speed cart owned by both Windsor and West Windsor. The speed cart is an automated device showing a speed limit sign along with the speed of the vehicle approaching it. If the vehicle is over speed, the machine flashes lights to request the vehicle to slow down.
The speed cart is out of service at the moment because of large snow banks, but Spackman said he would be willing to work with the Windsor police officer assigned to the device operation to get it operational at some agreed-upon appropriate location in the near future.
The select board also unanimously agreed to ask the upcoming town meeting in March to approve two new bond issues totaling more than $1 million to pay for long-deferred infrastructure maintenance.
One article will ask voters for bonds up to $700,000 for sewer system improvements, and the other is for bonds up to $425,000 for water system improvements.
Town officials say the sewer line involved is near the Mount Ascutney resort area, and used to be privately owned. It was taken over by the town, and has serious maintenance issues. Two 30-year-old water lines are in the same area, near the skiing area, and also need to be repaired or replaced.
While the problems are not an emergency, said board member Matt Kantola, “We are being pro-active.”