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Almost every day St. Joseph Street residents can hear the low rumble of tractor-trailer trucks and smell the diesel fumes that permeate the air.
The source comes from large trucks that enter and exit Napoli Foods, Inc., located at 10 Knotter Drive in Cheshire, and it has led at least one resident to file a complaint with the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Concerns regarding noise were expressed when Napoli was trying to obtain Planning and Zoning Commission approval early in 2007 and some mitigation measures were taken, such as installing a berm to reduce truck sounds. But now, some residents say those measures were not enough.
DEP spokesperson Cyndy Chanaca confirmed that her department received two noise complaints from residents, one in June and another in August. The DEP conducted two scheduled visits and had one unscheduled visit as a result of the complaints. According to Chanaca, the DEP ruled that it cannot take enforcement action on noises stemming from Napoli because “mobile sources of noise are exempt from DEP regulations.”
“There is noise, but it is not regulated,” she said. “While the noise may be unsatisfactory to people in the neighborhood, the DEP cannot regulate that.”
However, during the inspection, a violation was noted by the DEP. Chanaca explained that Napoli was in violation of idling rules in which trucks can only idle for three minutes. She said the company corrected this violation and “at this time, no more inspections are needed.”
Chanaca stated that the DEP receives “very limited complaints of this nature” in a given year, but when they do arise, it usually relates to trucks when they are backing up or idling for a long period of time.
Bob Pelegano, who has lived on St. Joseph Street for nearly three decades, is opposed to installing a sound wall to deflect the noise. When public hearings were held in early 2007, Pelegano told the Planning and Zoning Commission that he did not want the barriers installed because it would block sunlight and restrict airflow. Nearly two years later, Pelegano’s feelings remain unchanged.
“They have a right to be in business, it’s just my misfortune that I live next door to them,” Pelegano said. “There’s nothing that can be done about it.”
Napoli did plant some shrubs to try and block the noise, but Pelegano said they are more like “twigs.” He said big trees, like white pines, would help with the noise and would also be aesthetically pleasing.
Mark Cipriano, president of Napoli Foods, said the neighbors are welcome to speak with him regarding the noise complaints.
He said the company is doing its best to “try and adjust to make it as comfortable as possible” for nearby residents.
“We are not looking to be a bad neighbor,” Cipriano said. “We worked, and will continue to work, with the neighbors. We have no reason to make them upset.”
Cipriano added that he does have a business to run, but he is trying to do “whatever we can within reason” to accommodate the neighbors. However, Cipriano said, he is located in an industrial zone, and a major highway runs near the neighborhood as well.
“We are here to try and get along, we have no reason not to,” Cipriano said. “We don’t want to make any enemies.”
As far as the foliage is concerned, Cipriano said the person he hired assured him that the shrubs would fill in, but they “didn’t come in as we had hoped.” He said he is looking at other plants to fill out the area.
Town Manager Michael Milone confirmed that the Town does not have its own noise ordinance, but he said the idea was discussed a few years ago. Milone said the former town attorney spoke with other towns, but ultimately, it was decided that such an ordinance was “too onerous and difficult to enforce.”
“It really wasn’t worth it. It wouldn’t have the beneficial effect we’d want,” Milone said. “The state has a noise enforcement division, and we rely on them if there is something that needs attention.”
Milone said he receives a few noise complaints throughout the year, but they usually occur in the summer when motorcycles are out on the road.
Lisa Marasco, another St. Joseph Street resident, said she hears Napoli’s trucks when she goes outside at night to let the dog out or check on her young child.
In the summer, she has to keep her windows closed because the noise is too much to handle, but even then, she can still hear the trucks.
“Even with the windows shut, I can hear the trucks running and beeping when they back up,” Marasco said. “I hear it in the middle of the night.”
Like Pelegano, Marasco hopes that larger foliage could be planted to help block some of the noise.
“Hopefully, they will plant some mature trees, not plants that take 10 years to grow,” Marasco said. “You can’t enjoy being home when there is that much noise.”