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Dirt biker’s neighbors say they’re bothered by more than the noise

STONINGTON — A possible nuisance ordinance based on noise has widened to include a possible nuisance ordinance based on dirt and dust. The Board of Selectmen has asked the town attorney to research legal issues regarding activity on private property that causes dirt and dust to land on a neighbor’s property.

Several residents of the Richmond Lane neighborhood in Mystic attended Wednesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting to hear the board discuss a solution to what the neighbors say is a noise problem caused by a teenager on a motorbike.

Last month, town attorney Thomas Londregan presented the selectmen with three possible solutions to controlling noise in a residential neighborhood. Each has its own set of enforcement and legal problems, as well as expenses.

“There’s no magic pill,” he said. “There’s no practical solution to the issue.”

Police Capt. Jerry Desmond noted that the only state statute that deals with off-road vehicles is about riding them on public roads. The decibels created by the bike have been measured, Desmond noted, and were within legal limits. According to state law, legal noise levels cannot exceed 80 decibels at night, or 100 decibels at any time.

Resident Aaron Green, a neighbor of the dirt biker, presented the selectmen with a letter suggesting ways to tackle the problem. The existing ordinance, he said, is “extremely weak and does nothing to protect the residents.”

Desmond noted that the existing nuisance ordinance was written to control activity that takes place between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Although the law could be expanded to include this one activity during the day, Desmond said he was concerned that it might have the unintended consequence of banning daytime activities like construction.

Green said the problem was about more than noise.

“This whole thing has evolved over the last year,” he told the selectmen. “I don’t refer to it as a noise issue anymore. It’s more than that. The dust clouds that were generated last summer, this is an issue of motor sports. These are motor sports. Not just noise. It’s dust, it’s sporting activities with gasoline-powered engines. That’s really what’s going on in a residential neighborhood.”

Londregan said he would contact the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to see what the state says about regulating dirt and dust. He suggested that although the town has looked at a zoning solution to the problem, a nuisance ordinance is the only possible solution.

“I would rule out Planning and Zoning,” Londregan said.

First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. said he was concerned that this discussion was really about one house, and compared it to spot zoning.

“I just struggle with it, because if that person didn’t live there, you guys probably wouldn’t be here,” he said.

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