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Pellet plant not in violation of noise ordinance, official says

Published February 28. 2012 05:01PM

A long-standing noise dispute in Lower Towamensing Township continues to generate a buzz.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert contacted the TIMES NEWS recently to respond to a recent report on TV13 concerning the noise complaints expressed by several residents about the noise level generated by Great American Pellets, located at 2115 Little Gap Road.

Walbert said he believes the township has been "diligent and proactive concerning this issue."

"The township has been actively involved getting the facts concerning this complaint," Walbert said. "We have a zoning ordinance regarding noise, and from what we have so far, the pellet plant is not in violation of this ordinance."

Walbert noted the business has given all their operating records for the township's review, and added the township purchased a sound decibel meter to record the sound level.

"I believe we are the only township to have done this in Carbon County," he said. "We are in the process of setting up a computer program to record all pertinent information."

Further, Walbert said he has visited the plant when it was in full operation, and the results "were well within our zoning ordinance."

"We are a very proactive township, and address all issues with the same unbiased dedication," he said. "Quality of life issues are very important to the board of supervisors. We will work diligently to gather all the facts."

Last month, supervisors agreed to spend up to $300 to buy the meter after residents Dwight Moyer and Jeff Mizgerd raised a concern about the noise generated by the company.

Moyer and Mizgerd have said they don't have a problem with the business itself; but, rather, the level of noise generated by the operation.

In June, Stephen Ross, representing Great American Pellets, shared the results of an unofficial sound study he had performed to measure decibel levels claimed to come from the business.

That came after Moyer and Mizgerd told supervisors the noise levels that arise from the business have become unbearable.

At that time, Ross said he did the study as a courtesy to the township, and made no guarantee on the results as he is not certified, trained, nor proficient in the field. The instrument used for the study was a Universal Enterprises, Inc., Digital Sound Meter, he said.

As per the township zoning ordinance, Ross said that from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., a maximum of 85 decibels is allowed, and that from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., a maximum of 75 decibels is allowed.

Based on his study, Ross said 77 was the highest decibel reading he was able to come up with.

But, Moyer and Mizgerd questioned the accuracy of those results.

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