After hours construction done with out a variance permit is quite common in Brooklyn. Legal hours for construction in NYC are from 7am to 6pm weekdays.
During several recent concrete pours at the Armory Plaza work continued past 7:30 in the evening. Some nights they actually went on until 8:30pm smoothing the concrete. When the workers were politely reminded that construction should end at 6:00pm, the workers said that they could not stop until they were finished. At this site, after hours construction usually means heavy machinery and noise problems.
So, I thought I might take a sound recording while video taping the violation in order to see just what kind of decibel levels were being reached while two employees operated gasoline powered concrete helicopter floats. Considering the reading was taken more than 100' away from the source, the total sound level was still more than 60 dB(A) or about 20 dB(A) above the normal ambient environmental levels reached during similar non-construction times. The noise being produced was similar to that of a lawn mower, or in this case two lawn mowers.
To put these numbers in perspective, sound construction consultants generally agree that changes of as little as 5 dB are "readily noticeable" by the public. A change of 10 dB is perceived as a "doubling or halving of the loudness" and will produce widespread community complaints. Vigorous community reaction is expected when ever dramatic changes of 20 or more dB are perceived.
The Department of Environmental Protection and the 72nd Police Precinct are jointly responsible for enforcing noise complaints in the South Slope. The Department of Buildings "responds" to after hours construction complaints... And from personal experience, their response time can be anywhere from as fast as 24 hours to as slow as 30 days after your complaint was registered by the 311 operator. Sometimes the DoB "resolves" 311 complaints by lumping separate complaints together, labeling them as duplicate or as a "previously inspected complaint". That way they don't even have to come out and make a trip to the site. This delay in inspection time makes enforcement pretty much non existent. That's why after hours construction complaints may be best remedied by reporting them as quality of life noise complaints. It depends on how responsive your police precinct is.
I like to check out "MY NEIGHBORHOOD" Statistics from time to time. My Neighborhood Statistics lets New York City residents know how City agencies are performing in their neighborhood by viewing locally mapped performance statistics using a street address or intersection. Color-shaded maps also allow for easy comparisons of highs and lows in different neighborhoods.
For some helpful information on construction related noise check out the Department of Environmental Protection web page or down load the PDFs below.
REMEMBER: ALL NYC CONSTRUCTION SITES MUST NOW CONSPICUOUSLY POST THEIR NOISE MITIGATION PLANS.
Everything you ever wanted to know about NYC noise awaits you below. Enjoy!
Noise Code (Local Law 113 0f 2005)
The City's new noise code took effect on July 1, 2007. Noise complaints continue to be the number one quality of life issue for New York City residents; however the City's old noise code was over 30 years old. The new legislation establishes a flexible, yet enforceable noise code that responds to the need for peace and quiet while maintaining New York's reputation as the "City that never sleeps".
Construction Noise RulesThe construction rules that were written in coordination with the new noise code became effective on July 1, 2007. These rules establish a unique noise mitigation plan for each construction site, offering alternatives for contractors to continue their important construction tasks while having less noise impact on the surrounding environment.
- Construction Noise Rules (PDF)
Construction Noise Mitigation Plan – Sample Form
In accordance with Section 24-220 of the New York City Administrative Code, any individual or entity performing construction work in the city, shall adopt and implement a noise mitigation plan for each construction site when any device or activity is conducted as defined in Section 24-219. The attached sample form of a noise mitigation plan is intended to inform the user of the required plan elements that a responsible party must include when the listed devices are being used on site, and the mitigation strategies and best management practices that are being employed as defined in 15RCNY Section 28-102.
* Construction Noise Mitigation Sample Form (PDF)
Construction Noise Alternative Mitigation Plan– Sample Form
When required by Section 24-221 of the Administrative Code and or 15 RCNY Section 28-104, a complete and accurate Alternative Noise Mitigation Plan ["ANMP"] shall be filed when strict compliance with the noise mitigation rules is not possible. After review by DEP's technical staff, and when approval of this plan is warranted, such plan shall be conspicuously posted at the job site. When an ANMP is required, no construction activities, covered by such plan, shall take place until such plan is filed and subsequently approved by the DEP.
* Construction Noise Alternative Mitigation Sample Form (PDF)