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Township residents sound off on noise
A small band of Warwick Township residents made some noise of their own at the June 18 supervisors meeting, expressing concern about noise pollution coming from the new Rock Lititz campus.
The cordial discussion prompted a commitment from the supervisors to act on behalf of the residential neighbors, and from Rock Lititz (the entertainment powerhouse of Clair Global, Tait and Atomic Design) to address the problem.
Andrea Shirk, Rock Lititz’s program manager, released the following statement shortly after last week’s meeting:
“Rock Lititz is committed to being both a good citizen of Lititz and a good neighbor, as our partner companies have been in the past. We are definitely sensitive to the issues brought up recently, and currently have strategic plans in place to mitigate noise and other disruptions. We will continue to maintain an open line of communication with our local government and to those within close proximity of the campus to address any issues.”
All of the residents who attended the meeting live in close proximity to the construction site, where Rock Lititz is building a full-scale entertainment staging facility, and have in varying degrees experienced the effects of what they are calling noise pollution.
Resident Thomas W. Williams III presented supervisors with a two-page summary of their collective concerns, both now and in the future.
“Over the past years many homeowners have been annoyed by sound emulating from the testing of sound equipment originating from Clair Brothers Audio,” he said. “Most of the homeowners have been forced to live with this condition. Now that Rock Lititz is on the horizon we are all afraid that the sound will be compounded.”
“Is there going to be excessive sound coming from the new building when they are using the building for rehearsals that were originally to be just staging and lighting,” he continued in his letter. “How loud will the noise be if the new building is used for sound demonstration? Will a restriction be placed on the sound level? What is the time span for usage or demonstrations to customers? What will be the starting times and when will it commence? Will Clair Brothers be responsible for the installation of some sort of sound buffer?”
While Williams and his neighbors were expressing their concerns, he at the same time recognized Clair Global (commonly referred by their former name of Clair Brothers) for being an excellent company.
“We feel that Clair Brothers have been an outstanding company with broad visions of the future in the stage production and audio systems of the country,” said Williams. “The reason for our concern is for our property, personal health (drum beats and bass guitar) and peace of mind. Please consider the letter as a request for help and above all consideration before it could become a problem beyond control.”
One resident who asked not to be identified told supervisors that at times the noise is so severe that she feels it pounding in her chest. Another resident said the noise has been known to rattle dishes in her cabinets.
Bob Tangert lives in close proximity to the plant. He said he is concerned because they have endured the noise as early as 6:30 a.m and as late as 8:30 p.m.
All residents said they were concerned about the impact on their property values. Some neighbors have already placed their homes on the market.
The township government is sympathetic and will continue to communicate with local officials and Rock Lititz, and they encouraged residents to continue coming to township meetings on the matter, all of which are open to the public.
Residents said they have been in touch with Clair Global, but with mixed results. According to one account, a resident was told that the business was on property zoned commercial and that as such there would be some noise.
“If we played our music that loud wouldn’t the cops be knocking on our doors?” asked Tangert. “We should not have to police them. They should be policing themselves.”
Supervisor chairman Logan Myers agreed.
“They are not that different,” he said. “We do have ordinances in place for when that can and cannot take place, regardless of whether it’s your home or someone’s place of business.”
Township business manager Dan Zimmerman did point out that different standards for noise exist in areas zoned residential versus those zoned commercial. The problem is where those zones meet.
Tangert added that his concern is not limited to noise coming from Rock Lititz, referring to chartered busses idling for hours on end at the Risser site.
During earlier planning meetings, the Rock Lititz project reflected developers’ efforts to curb the noise coming from the complex. Those plans included repairs to the riparian buffer, an eight-foot-high earth berm, watershed improvements and adding a swatch of vegetation as a buffer. Now township officials are expressing an openness to suggestions for further improvement.
While there were no representatives from Rock Lititz at last week’s meeting, Myers did point out the organization’s well known reputation for being community-minded.
“You recognize that the Clairs are very concerned about what happens in the community,” said Myers. “They are not going to deliberately do something detrimental to the area. And we cannot just act on a hearsay item. There must be appropriate hearings and testimony. We are bound to operate in that fashion.”
Gary P. Klinger is a freelance reporter for the Record Express, covering the Warwick Township and Lititz Borough municipal beats. He welcomes your feedback via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/gpklinger.