The Stacy City Council public comment period turned again to the topic of Royal Concrete and Pipeline at the council’s May 13 meeting. Teri Kaslow, who lives near the business, read from her notes. Kaslow reminded the council of her appearance at the April 8 council meeting.
“Royal Concrete is out of hibernation,” Kaslow had said, and she chronicled a list of 22 noise complaints, the last submitted Oct. 19, 2013. On May 13, Kaslow maintained she and her neighbors suffer from sleep deprivation and resulting poor job performance.
Kaslow noted that on April 15 she reported forklift and banging noises to the mayor. At 4:45 a.m. May 5, she again reported excessive noise caused by a Royal Concrete forklift. At 4 a.m. May 7, it was again the banging of forklifts awakening her family and neighbors.
Her notes went on to detail numerous other similar occurrences.
“I am interested in knowing what you have accomplished (regarding noise abatement) within the last five weeks,” Kaslow said.
Mayor Mark Utecht thanked Kaslow for her detailed accounts and said the council would respond to her queries.
Utecht said the city maintenance department staff has been out taking sound readings at different times of day and night over the last few weeks. Utecht said the department had captured sound readings at the exact time that Kaslow had also documented noise in one of her complaints. The mayor advised his colleagues that the results of the readings are contained in a memo he had just handed to his colleagues.
Utecht described an “L10” and an “L50” sound level, defined as excessive noise at a level 10 to 50 percent above a benchmark and sustained over a period of time.
“We are getting readings during the morning hours that are exceeding both the L10 and the L50 specifications,” he said. “However, this morning, there was no sound from Royal Concrete, and the noise was determined to be coming from the freeway and from songbirds,” Utecht said. He added that a truck with a flat tire or a bus could spike the readings.
Utecht said the city’s intention is to be fair and accurate. Now that the city can substantiate noise levels that are excessive, the city can move forward with requesting access to the residents’ yards to take the readings accurately.
“We will not enter someone’s property without their express written permission,” Utecht said.
Readings were taken from the nearby bike trail. The mayor’s preference is that readings are taken directly from the location of affected properties. Utecht said the city hadn’t wanted to trespass, but now declared the city is at that point where staff will ask residents’ permission to take sound readings within their yards.
Stacy officials and staff have consulted with a sound expert to analyze the readings to determine the exact source of the excessive noise. Utecht added that none of the readings taken by daylight are deemed excessive. Councilor Jim Ness suggested that the next step should be to take the readings from the actual location the complaint originates.
“We’re throwing money away unless we are doing this.” Ness said.
Councilor Charles Lucia added, “I want to know if this is costing the city to do this.”
Utecht said the only cost incurred by the city is the time for the maintenance department to take the readings. Lucia said he is getting a “50-50” opinion on the noise issue from residents in the neighborhood.
Jack Kramer, city building and code inspector, had been called to review the business’s conditional use permit, but there was no charge for this because Kramer is a contract employee.
He determined Royal Concrete to be in compliance with the terms of the CUP.
“What I’m hearing is that we want to do additional testing specifically as spelled out in rule 7030,” Utecht said.
Rule 7030 is the established state threshold for gauging nuisance noise complaints. City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer concurred that the city can move forward in documenting noise levels as excessive.
Kaslow granted permission for the city staff to set up equipment in her yard. The council members expressed the hope that, although the neighborhood may not exactly experience silence, they should at least be able to sleep well and without having to close windows.