OSWEGO, NY – With the start of a new academic year looming at SUNY Oswego, city officials are looking to tweak the city’s Noise Ordinance. Councilor Eric VanBuren has arranged the meeting.
The goal is to curb the rowdy behavior, off campus, by some SUNY Oswego students. That includes loud house parties, the “drunk bus” situation and several other issues, the councilor explained at a workshop prior to Monday’s council meeting.
Port City councilors are looking to model parts of Oswego’s ordinance after the one currently in use by the city of Ithaca.
“It really has the same nuts and bolts as our ordinance does,” Police Chief Tory DeCaire pointed out.
The fines go up after each violation occurs, he said. And, it addresses “aggravating factors,” such as is there a keg at the party, is there a live band going on or are there so many people, he added.
It gives the ordinance more teeth, he noted.
The ordinance would also be used under other circumstances, such as loud noise from a bar.
Councilor Shawn Walker said he has had some complaints about the noise emanating from the Lighthouse Lanes on the nights where they have live outdoor entertainment.
He said he has contacted the owner and he has rectified the problem.
Council President Ron Kaplewicz noted there have been similar situations at The Sting, another tavern with outdoor entertainment. The owner there, he said, has also worked with the city to keep the noise levels at an acceptable degree.
The chief pointed out that when certain things are proposed in a neighborhood, there is a public hearing and everyone gets to know what’s going on.
He said it would be a good idea for the same thing for when people or businesses apply for a waiver of the noise ordinance.
“A letter should go out to the immediate neighbors,” he said. That would allow them to come to the hearing and voice their concerns if they wish, he added.
“It would help having the neighbors on board instead of them finding out at the last minute,” he told the councilors.
VanBuren said that was a good idea. He added that in cases where there would be live music it would be a good idea to find out about what type of music would be performed. He cited some complaints about profane lyrics during the recent concert held on the Oswego Speedway grounds.
The ordinance needs to specify who the responsible party is, whether it be landlord, tenants, guests or whoever, the councilors agreed. The Ithaca ordinance pretty much covers that aspect; however, Oswego councilors said they’d like to “fraternity member(s)” to the local version.
Kaplewicz suggested the mayor schedule a roundtable meeting with representatives from the college “to let them know where we’re going. And, what our expectations are going to be for the students.”
He also recommended having a judge decide what the city can and cannot do regarding the buses that drop off and pick up college students at house parties in the neighborhoods.
Walker urged the city officials to strictly enforce the current laws. If the police crack down on house parties, and keep it up, that will curtail a lot of the problems in the neighborhoods, he said.
Kaplewicz agreed there should be an increased police presence in areas where house parties are prevalent.
“(The students) are going to see an officer when they are dropped off. That to me will help bring more order to that whole process than it has before,” he said. “We aren’t looking to put anybody out of business; our intent is to restore order in our neighborhoods.”
The Ithaca ordinance clearly defines things such as daytime and night time hours, emergency work, impulsive sound, unreasonable sound and “person” among other things.
In defining unreasonable noise it takes into consideration the intensity of the noise, whether the nature of the noise is usual or unusual, proximity to sleeping facilities, the time of day and other factors.
It covers noise sources including “parties and other social events.”
In Ithaca, violations are punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 or imprisonment of not more than 15 days or not more than 100 hours of community service or a combination. Repeat offenders case face fines of $750 or $1,000 or not more than 125 hours of community service.
The law has been on the books in Ithaca since 1990 and was amended in 2004.
A resolution regarding any potential changes in the Oswego ordinance could come to the council by the end of this month.