East Greenville residents are getting noisy about all the noise on Washington Street.
At Monday night’s borough council meeting, a group of seven Washington and Penn street residents voiced their displeasure with the noise and inconvenience caused by the new Home City Ice plant at 131 Washington Street.
“What we have allowed to move into our neighborhood is nothing less than an industrial park,” Debra Dallas, one of the residents, said. “It does not belong on a residential street.”
Other residents shared stories of the noise of groups of tractor-trailers running all night, trucks’ horns and backup beepers sounding as early as 3:45 a.m. and trucks blocking driveways and fire hydrants.
Multiple attempts to solve the issues by speaking to Home City Ice representatives have led to little relief, Dallas said.
Cathy Sweeney said construction on the plant has begun at 6 a.m. some mornings. According to the borough’s noise ordinance, construction in residential districts is not to begin before 7 a.m.
Sweeney added that the field next to the factory has become “basically a parking lot” for trucks and that while the trucks run at night, their headlights shine into the windows of her home across the street.
“I didn’t want to rush in here,” she said. “I tried to be patient, see how things went, but it’s been a long six, eight months.”
Chris Pursell, owner of Pursell’s Automotive Service, 136 Washington Street, said the plant has been running 24/7 recently and added that a forklift from the plant has been left in his parking lot. Other residents added that trucks have been parked on both sides of the street, narrowing the route for traffic. They voiced concerns for the safety of children and other pedestrians that frequently walk along Washington Street in the spring and summer when the nearby YMCA pool and baseball fields are in use.
Dallas proposed the borough create an access route from Route 663, behind the cemetery, to the rear of the plant to help cut down on traffic and noise on the residential street.
“We’ve counted 18 trucks in one day,” she said.
Sweeney said she has measured noise as high as 70 to 75 decibels with a decibel-reader app on her iPhone.
“We’ll have to review the plans to see if they’re violating any parts of the agreement,” Mayor Ryan Sloyer said. He said that borough officials would also review the borough’s noise ordinance and contact representatives from Home City Ice to address any violations and issues.
The plant has been running more than normal recently to provide extra ice to those who needed it due to Hurricane Sandy, he added. He also urged residents to contact police when truck drivers park in front of driveways or fire hydrants.
Council President Josiah Pierson explained that council had agreed to the Home City Ice project hoping to create jobs in the community. He added that the company’s representatives had promised quieter generators than the ones used by Nolt’s Ice company, the former owner of the plant. They had not mentioned higher truck traffic when they approached council, however.
Councilman Timothy Huff asked if any residents had spoken with anyone outside the local plant, such as a regional manager. Some residents had spoken to a regional manager, but they said the problems resumed shortly afterward.
Huff then asked for a copy of the list of complaints. He said council will look into resolving the issues with the company’s corporate representatives.
Solicitor Barry Tomlinson said the deeds of dedication for phases I and II of the Home City Ice project were ready for approval, but advised against action in light of the issues.
“Maybe that’s something we can hold off on, considering the circumstances,” he said.
In other news, council voted to allocate $1,750 for purchasing a transfer switch for borough hall’s electrical work for use with a generator in case of another power outage like the one suffered from Hurricane Sandy. While the borough has a portable generator that can supply basic electrical needs, council is still researching possible grants for a full backup generator, Borough Manager Jim Fry said.
As of the weekend, the only places in the borough that were still without power were the fire station and Lifespan Childcare, Sloyer said, adding that both locations would probably be getting power back Monday night. Council also commended the borough secretaries and road crews for all their hard work during the storm.
Council also noted that leaf collection is scheduled for November 17 and December 1 from 9 a.m. to noon. Fry said that while the borough was unable to chip branches last week due to the weather, they managed to do so twice this week. He said he wanted to chip once more next week. There is a two inch diameter size restriction on branches.