Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Another Public Hearing for the HOH Elevator Tower

Gossips has been been following the progress of the proposed elevator tower to be constructed at the rear of the Hudson Opera House to provide access for those unable or unwilling to climb the stairs to the second floor performance space.

In May, the project made its initial appearances before the three agencies whose approval is required: the Planning Commission, the Historic Preservation Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

The Planning Commission wanted more information about sight lines and noise. The HPC wanted to see renderings that showed the elevator tower in its context from different directions. The ZBA scheduled a public hearing for June 19 at 6 p.m.

Tonight, Dan Proper of Crawford & Associates appeared before the Planning Commission with the information requested. With regard to sight lines, he reported that the critical sight line was for vehicles traveling east on Cherry Alley and wanting to cross City Hall Place or make a right turn onto City Hall Place. Proper reported the city code requires a 20-foot clearance. There is now a 45-foot clearance, and the elevator tower will have no impact on that.

The report on noise was more complicated. The members of the Planning Commission received a printed study that Gossips didn't get to see, but here is what is known to someone present at the meeting. Proper explained that the original plan was to create a ground-based transformer at the southwest corner of the building (marked in red on the drawing at left), but National Grid, which had originally approved a ground-based transformer, changed its mind and now wanted the three-phase transformer to be pole-mounted., so the transformer will be in three "cans" attached to an existing utility pole on the HOH site.

Proper explained that the Hudson Opera House was subject to commercial regulations, which allow 65 decibels during the day and 55 decibels at night, but because of the proximity to the residential property just across Cherry Alley, the limit was 49 decibels at all times. (Gossips' research discovered that 50 decibels is the equivalent of the noise level in an average home; 40 decibels is the noise level in a library reading room.) Proper reported that the chiller to be installed on top of the elevator tower would produce a 49-decibel reading at the residence directly across Cherry Alley and the attenuated noise from the pole-mounted transformer would also be 49 decibels. 

So Gossips' question was this: If you have 49 decibels of noise coming from two different sources in close proximity, does the noise impact double to 98 decibels, does it stay at 49 decibels, or is it something in-between? Gossips' research, for what it's worth, indicates that it is something in-between.

The Planning Commission scheduled a public hearing on the elevator tower for July 10 at 6:30 p.m.

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