Southborough town meeting narrowly passes St. Mark’s bell tower funding

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Voters reject noise ordinance

Photo by/Dakota Antelman
St Mark’s Church stands near downtown Southborough. Voters just approved funding to help fix the church’s aging clocktower.

By Sara Brown, Contributing Writer

SOUTHBOROUGH – Residents decided to keep the St. Mark’s bell tower standing tall and proud, among other things, at Town Meeting May 22. 

Article 19 on the 39-article warrant asked voters to use $300,000 of Community Preservation Act funds to preserve the bell tower at St. Mark’s Church near the center of town. 

Selectman Martin Healey said this project is exactly what the CPA is for and that they should support the cause during Town Meeting. 

However, others wondered if CPA funds should go to another cause in town instead of a religious institution. 

Resident Al Hamiltion noted that, so far, the town has only used CPA money in a small narrow section of town. He believed that money should be used throughout Southborough.  

Residents debated the article for over 50 minutes. After that deliberation, it came down to a tight hand vote of 83 to 82 votes in favor of approving the CPA funding. 

As residents said “yes” to Article 19, they did reject Article 37, which proposed a new noise ordinance for Southborough. 

Resident Peter LaPine presented the article himself as the Board of Selectmen were not ready to bring a draft of a noise ordinance to Town Meeting. 

“This is something that we, as a town, should not neglect anymore,” said LaPine. 

The bylaw had rules and regulations for noise regarding construction, emergency vehicles, impact devices as well as other items. For example, construction sound would only be permitted between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM on weekdays and 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Saturdays.

For different areas of town, different decibels of sound would be tolerated at specific hours. The town would also be divided by different noise zones including zone 1, which is for residential, places of worship and medical areas. Zone two is for everything else. Each zone has its set of regulations including how loud noise can get by decibel. In zone one, the daytime limit is set a 60 dBA and the nighttime limit is 50 dBA. For zone two, daytime is 75 dBA and nighttime is 65 dBA.

Police Chief Kenneth Paulhus said this would be too hard to enforce, and police officers wouldn’t be able to keep up with it. 

He also said that while a weekly police log may state a noise complaint, a police officer will sometimes arrive on scene and find a different issue entirely. 

“I think we need a noise bylaw or something that enforces some decorum,” said resident Christy Townsend after the meeting. “However, I don’t think this article was right for town. I think this is something we as a town really need to collaborate on.” 

Overall, residents only rejected three articles during Town Meeting, Article 37, 32 and 33. Article 32 would allow advisory committee to only have nine members and cannot already be a member of another committee. Article 33 would have allowed the town to create a Capital Improvement & Planning Committee that would be appointed by selectmen.

Read the full town meeting agenda by visiting www.southboroughtown.com/board-selectmen and clicking “2021 Annual Town Meeting Warrant.”