Editor’s note: Due to a production error, part of the following article was omitted in Monday’s edition. It is being reprinted here.
By AMY ASH NIXON
MONTPELIER — A request to the city council from E.F. Wall on behalf of the state of Vermont to allow work to be done on the Pavilion Office Building later than the city’s noise ordinance would have allowed ended up being withdrawn after concerns were expressed to the city.
The issue had been an agenda item for the city council’s special meeting called last Wednesday evening but was withdrawn, City Manager William Fraser told the council and Fred Bashara, owner of the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Conference Center after Bashara indicated he had concerns about his hotel guests being disturbed by the late night work under consideration.
The contractors had sought to perform work after 9 p.m. and as late as 1 a.m. for the project to repair and repaint window trim on the historic building on State Street, the request shows. The project had been set to start July 29.
City Manager William Fraser said requests to grant noise ordinance variances are rare, and the one that came in from E.F. Wall for the state project was for a longer period than the city has previously received. Usually, they are for just a day or two, he noted in an email.
An email sent to Councilor Dona Bate from Katie Bancroft King, assistant project manager for the E.F. Wall & Associates Inc., firm last Monday, two days before the council meeting, noted that the Barre firm was set to begin work on the fifth floor of the Pavilion Building last week. “We are replacing the windows and fixing and painting the exterior trim around the windows as well,” she stated. “This work is required to be done at night and on weekends as we are not allowed to start work until 4:30 p.m. during the week,” she wrote to Bate, who had inquired about the project.
The company was informed of the noise ordinance by a city staff member in the public works department, noted King, stating that the firm was working to “make up a pedestrian detour plan as we will have a boom lift on the sidewalk during the work.”
The firm did not anticipate the noise being great, wrote King, but sought the variance to be sure they were in compliance with the ordinance, which starts at 9 p.m. “We will be using saws and hammers to repair any rotted trim on the exterior of the building,” she noted.
Bate had written to King that the council usually included neighboring residents in such situations.
In an email from Bashara to the city manager, Bashara last Monday wrote, “Bill, Our most expensive rooms are just across the street from the Pavilion. After 9 would create a huge hardship on us from all of the complaints we would be getting. Nine should be the latest they should be allowed to work if they are creating noise.”
The request from the state came to the city just days before the work was hoped to launch, emails requested by the newspaper show.
In one of the emails, Fraser notes that, “The only neighbor likely to be directly impacted is the Capitol Plaza.”
After the concerns were expressed, what ended up happening was the contractor was given permission to work during the day on the building’s exterior, noted King in an email on Tuesday, after a preconstruction meeting with the state.
“Should the work get too distracting for the employees on the fifth floor, we may need to rethink our working hours, but as of right now, we will not need a variance in the noise ordinance,” King updated city officials on Tuesday. Plans now call for not working later than 9 p.m., she stated.
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