Photo credit: Xabi Oregi
by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies
Andrew Keh’s New York Times article on Sept. 25 reminds readers how difficult it was a couple of weeks ago for residents who live close to the United Nations during the annual General Assembly. Things quieted down last week, but not for a group of residents who live at the Manor, a co-op building close to the U.N. These residents, according to the article, will continue to hear the loud air-conditioning noises coming from the roof of a nearby building which belongs to the Kingdom of Bhutan.
The Bhutanese ambassador received a letter last week from residents of the Manor complaining about the constant noise from the A.C. unit. This noise has been intruding on the residents for several years and is most disturbing during the warm months when neighbors like to open their windows. The Manor residents were disappointed when they learned that the Department of Environmental Protection’s readings of the A.C. unit, taken last June, were not in violation of the city’s Noise Code. And by the way, according to one of the residents, the measurements were taken on a day the unit was off.
Interestingly, the Manor had a prior experience with a nearby noisy fan in 2001. This dispute involved the mission of Brunei and resulted in city fines for the violations. Even though those fines were never paid, the Mayor’s Office intervened and the noisy machinery was replaced. This time around, the Manor had someone speak to the Superintendent of the Bhutanese mission regarding the noise. The residents were then told that the problem had been fixed. A Times reporter made an inquiry about the noise problem and was also told it was fixed but the residents report that the noise continues.
The noise that Manor residents are experiencing emanate from a source that is covered by the city’s Noise Code. Thus, measurements taken when the unit is operating that indicate the sound exceeds the Noise Code’s allowable levels should result in fines. Hopefully, these fines provide an incentive to repair the unit. There should be another incentive for not inflicting noise on your neighbors — treating others kindly and respectfully. I would think that members of the U.N., with their focus on protecting human rights, would agree that inflicting harmful noise on others is not respectful or humane.