The Village of Cobleskill may be quieter this fall, thanks to a tougher noise law on the books.
Approved by the village board earlier this year, the law targets not only noise but also "unruly gatherings."
"The old law was basically one from the state," said village Codes Officer Mike Piccolo. "There wasn't a lot of bite to it."
Both he and Police Chief Larry Travis stressed that the new law isn't aimed at SUNY Cobleskill students, even though they make up a large portion of tenants in the village.
Cobleskill has 1,550 rental properties, according to Mr. Piccolo; college students rent about one-third.
"It's not college-related only," Chief Travis said. "But do we have an upswing in volume when college students are back? Yes."
The noise portion of the new law differs from the old one in that it more clearly defines offenses, including intensity, distance to neighbors distance to "sleeping facilities," duration and other factors.
"It gives police a little more to work with," Mr. Piccolo said.
But it's the "unruly gathering" provision that sets the new law apart from the old.
The law states that a gathering of 10 or more people could create "a substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of surrounding private or public property. . ."
Such "unlawful conduct" may include excessive noise of traffic, crowds blocking traffic, public drunkenness, serving alcohol to minors, public urination, litter and more.
"An unruly gathering is often the start of other things," Chief Travis said.
The first violation of the noise ordinance may bring a warning or a summons, depending on what police officers observe, he said.
A first violation of the unruly gathering provision results in the property being posted with a notice of violation. The notice must remain on the house for six months.
Further violations result in increasing fines and possibly jail time.
And, in another stronger measure, property owners may be subject to the unruly gathering penalties.
"It's a mechanism to make property owners aware and a little more accountable for their properties," Chief Travis said.
Although police have had some noise complaints, nothing's triggered the unruly gathering provision yet, he added.
Neighbors who observe possible violations can call police by using 911 or the police office, 234-2923, depending on the situation.
"Does it require 911? Maybe," Chief Travis said. "But we're asking people to use common sense."
As a pro-active measure, Village Police and University Police last week were to deliver door-hangers to rental properties to advise tenants about proper behavior, Chief Travis said.
"All we're tying to do is to teach people to be good neighbors," Mr. Piccolo said. "Respect your neighbors and remember that they have to get up and go to work or get kids off to school. That's all."