Everyone's heard stories of city dwellers who buy a house in the country next to a dairy farm and then complain about the smell of cow manure. Hudson gets its own brand of folks who seem not to be paying attention when they buy property--for example, people who buy an old house in a city that takes pride in its historic architecture and then declare that they want "something modern."
This morning, a reader reported that the city clock in the tower of the First Presbyterian Church was no longer tolling the hour. It wasn't that the clock had stopped working (the picture below was taken today at precisely 9:53 a.m.), but the chiming of the clock to mark the hours had been silenced.
The clock no longer tolls the hours because of a "noise complaint." According to my source, some people who live near the church complained that the chiming clock woke them up at night. Some inquiries into the situation led me to Chapter 210 of the city code, the city's noise ordinance, specifically to § 210-7 Exceptions. The section begins: "The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to the following acts." Item E in the list is this:
The operation or use of any bell, chimes, or other instrument from any church, synagogue, temple, mosque or school licensed or chartered by the State of New York, provided such operation or use does not occur between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. of the following day.
The reference is to bells, chimes, and carillons that are rung as calls to worship or in celebration or recognition or for the joy of the sound of bells filling the air, not to a clock chiming the hour. It seems, however, that the City is now applying it to the clock because the city clock is located, as it has been since 1802, in the tower of a church. Because the chiming of the clock cannot be turned off for just nine hours every day, it has been completely eliminated as a consequence of the noise complaint.
Chapter 210 of the code, the noise ordinance, was "amended in its entirety" in October 2006. Gossips was an alderman when the noise ordinance was amended, and I can say with some confidence that I and my colleagues never imagined that this provision of the ordinance would be applied to the the chiming of the city clock and would result in the clock being silenced. This post should probably be subtitled "A Tale of Unintended Consequences."
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