NISKAYUNA — The Town Board is planning sessions to hear from residents who have heard too much.
The board will conduct two public hearings — one about construction noise and the other on excessive dog barking — at its Sept. 25 meeting.
In one hearing, discussion will be invited on an amendment the town is considering to restrict construction noise on Saturdays and Sundays.
Construction activity — including excavation, demolition, paving and building repair — is currently allowed between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The amendment would shorten those hours, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The other hearing will be used to gather input on a possible amendment to the local law regarding unprovoked and continuously barking dogs.
According to current town law, dog owners create a nuisance if their dogs bark continuously for 15 minutes or more and can be heard anywhere beyond the dog owner’s property.
Dog owners face fines of $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense and $250 for the third — and each subsequent — offense.
Part of the reason behind the proposed amendment is complaints about dogs barking at Aqueduct Animal Hospital, at 2721 Balltown Road. Residents of nearby Schwaber Drive have told Town Board members they hear dogs barking from early morning through early evening.
The issue was first brought up last year.
The animal hospital has been on Balltown for more than 50 years — long before homes were built on Schwaber. The hospital, run by veterinarian Matthew Pike, offers services such as day care and dentistry for dogs.
Both amendments have been reviewed by the town’s Economic Development, Historic Preservation and Environmental Conservation Committee.
“There is a whole neighborhood back there,” said board member and committee Chairman John Della Ratta, of the area around the animal hospital. “Apparently, the dogs are barking quite a bit at all hours of the day. Right now, it’s very difficult to enforce the law. They have to be continuously barking for like 15 minutes. If they stop barking for 30 seconds, then they’d have to continuously bark for another 15.
“The police go over and say, ‘We can’t really enforce this,'” Della Ratta added. “They’ll go over there, and the dog won’t be barking continuously for 15 minutes.”
Della Ratta said residents will give opinions on the proposed amendment, “but it wouldn’t be changed until December,” he said.
The amendment, if passed, would shorten the 15-minute time span. A barking dog would be considered a nuisance if it barked continuously for 10 minutes or intermittently over 20 minutes between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Niskayuna police did not respond to two messages left Thursday asking for input on this story.
Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed said town code enforcement personnel will attempt to record dogs barking in the hospital area, so board members can hear for themselves.
Syed also said she continues to hear complaints from neighbors in the area who tell her the noise continues well after dark.
“When it’s overnight and you just want to get to sleep, I can understand that,” she said.
Board Member Denise Murphy McGraw said she is especially concerned about excessive barking, “Not only because it impacts quality of life in Niskayuna, but because I care about the health and safety of the animals.”
She added: “We are eager to hear from residents about their thoughts on the best ways to address these issues as we consider updating our town code.”
The amendment would also include time limits for daylight hours, but Murphy McGraw said those have not been finalized.
A third hearing also will take place regarding a construction facility proposed for 397-399 Anthony St.
Jackson Demolition hopes to move into existing buildings on the land — buildings once used by the Cardona & Sons business. Construction materials and equipment also will be stored on site, if a special use permit is granted by the town.
The hearings will start at the beginning of the meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m.
Contact Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]