Safeway Auto owner Joe Coelho has been found not guilty of violating the town’s noise ordinance following several complaints from a neighbor about his wind turbine.
Municipal Court Judge Jane Howlett ruled the town did not prove its case against Mr. Coelho because Bristol Police Officer Sean Gonsalves did not take the noise readings in the proper location. The town ordinance requires that “the measurement shall be made at the property line of the property on which such noise is generated or perceived, as appropriate, five feet off the ground.” Gonsalves testified in court last Tuesday that he recorded the noise measurement from a second-story deck on the neighbor’s home.
“The Town did not prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the noise readings were taken consistent with the requirements,” Howlett wrote in her decision. “And therefore, the court finds the defendant not guilty.”
Mr. Coelho installed the 100-foot-tall wind turbine behind his Gooding Avenue business two years ago to generate environmentally friendly power. The town Zoning Board granted him a height variance in 2011 and the $262,000 wind turbine was legally completed in January 2012.
Neighbor Kenneth Alves, who lives on nearby Hamlet Avenue, has called the police 16 times since the turbine’s installation, complaining of excessive noise that keeps him and his family up nights. Each time he has called, Bristol Police measured the noise, finding it to be below the 50 decibel residential limit. However, on Dec. 9, 2013, Off. Gonsalves reported his noise meter measured a range of 40-56 decibels from Mr. Alves’ back deck, prompting him to issue Mr. Coelho the violation notice.