Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet

For immediate release
January 19, 2023

Jill Bellenger
[email protected]

Nicole Thibault
[email protected]

Ted Rueter
[email protected]

Chapel Hill: Perinton, New York, a suburb of Rochester with a population of 47,000, has won this month’s “Noisy Dozen” award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for not even having a noise ordinance. As a result, noise in Perinton goes unabated, from gas-powered leaf blowers, motor vehicles, and the High Acres Landfill.


Jill Bellenger, a work-at-home marketing director, has lived in Perinton for six years. She notes that “it did not take long after moving for me to realize I was not actually living in a ‘quiet cul de sac,’ as I was sold in our real estate listing. Perinton, with a population of 47,000, does not have a noise ordinance. I find this incredible.”

Bellenger commented that “as a mother of a toddler, I found it impossible to predict whether I’d be able to get my son down for a nap because neighbors’ leaf blowing activities had become such a problem. Several neighbors, including one who does landscaping for several other neighbors, use older gas leaf blowers, running at well above 100 decibels and so dirty that you could smell them from several houses away.”

According to Bellenger, “The first time I spoke up to a neighbor and asked if it would be possible for him to not leaf blow during my son’s nap time twice a week, I was told ‘he’ll get used to it’ and was compared to a nagging wife. It was a terrible feeling. I was shocked. Encounters with other neighbors were met with similar responses, some even more self-righteous and arrogant. I have been called a hypocrite for not driving an electric vehicle and have been told to move to California, where their sale or purchase will be banned as of 2024.  Conditions in my neighborhood have only gotten worse as I continue to be gaslit for speaking up.”

If a car is speeding down our street, Bellenger observes, nobody thinks twice about calling out the offender for endangering the safety and well-being of the neighborhood.  “However,” she notes, “enduring endless low-frequency noise from gas-powered leaf blowers at all hours, sometimes with multiple operators on a single small lot, residents blasting particulates 20 feet into the air after the snow melts in the street, operating within 50 feet of bystanders (including kids), forcing their kids to operate these devices, or even wearing a baby on the front while operating a backpack blower on the back are totally socially acceptable.

Unfortunately, in Perinton, speaking up against gas-powered blowers “is met with contempt and ostracization. Their attitude seems to be, ‘You are the problem.’ Apparently, the perfect suburban lawn must prevail above all else.”

Bellenger states that “the town of Perinton has heard my concerns and for several years has done nothing to protect us from the environmental and health impacts of noise pollution. I’ve informed them of the countless other towns and counties that have regulated or banned the use of gas-powered leaf blowers because of noise and air pollution. I have testimonials from many other residents, yet our town supervisor continues to call us ‘an extreme minority.’ He has dismissed the idea of a noise ordinance on the grounds that we have gone this long without it. Also, he and other members of the town board still believe in the kindness of the residents to be able to work these things out among themselves. This is an extreme lack of leadership on their part. We are demanding change.”

Nicole Thibault, another resident of Perinton, has had similar experiences. She has lived in her current house for almost ten years.  She states that ‘’we knew moving into our house that we would experience a certain amount of noise due to the nearby train tracks. Our previous house was similarly close to the train tracks and have experienced train noise over the years, so we were accustomed to the regular train noises. I often FaceTime with my mother and she can hear when trains go by.”

In the past year or two, the train noises have increased in the overnight hours, usually between the hours of midnight and 4:00 am. Thibault states that “this is due to our close proximity to the High Acres Landfill. Waste Management takes in garbage via train cars from New York City and unloads them in the overnight hours. These are not the usual train noises; these are noises that are so loud that they wake me up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night.”

Thibault notes that there are various types of train noise:  “One noise is a loud, constant low hum, as the trains rev and idle as they move forward towards the landfill for unloading (this one vibrates my house). Another noise is a loud clanging sound as each train car door slams shut as they unload the garbage.” Also, ”there is another noise where it sounds like the train is derailing or crashing. When this happens, it’s like an explosion; I fully expect to hear emergency sirens following this sound, thinking it must be some sort of catastrophe, but it’s just business as usual over at the High Acres Landfill!”

Thibault observes that “my house literally shakes with some of these loud noises. Neighbors discuss this issue on our Facebook pages, asking if everything is OK, that they were woken up at 1:00 am with a loud crashing sound, and does anyone know what happened? So I know the issues with the Waste Management-created sounds are not just bothersome to me. It’s so bad, I can’t sleep with my windows open in the warmer months because the noise levels from High Acres Landfill and Waste Management keep me awake.”

“I knew going into buying our house,” Thibault stated, “that we would have regular train noise, and I have no issue with those normal sounds. I do have an issue with the High Acres Landfill and Waste Management unloading garbage trains at 1:00 am, creating such a loud noise that I’m awoken from a deep sleep, night after night. I strongly encourage the town of Perinton to create a noise ordinance during the night time and overnight hours to combat the noise levels from Waste Management.”

The landfill has a history of negligence, which has harmed the community. Public nuisance complaints directed at the Perinton-based facility even resulted in a class action lawsuit, where plaintiffs sued over odor and noise concerns.

Numerous other residents of Perinton are also greatly bothered by excessive noise. “LR” commented that “I completely detest leaf blowers.”  “TBH” stated that “my husband and I severely dislike gas-powered leaf blowers.” “CW” proclaimed that “I would wholeheartedly support restrictions–or, even better—an all-out ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.” “ER” noted that “my neighbor uses his industrial-strength leaf blower every afternoon for an hour!”

Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, stated that “it is almost unbelievable that Perinton doesn’t have a noise ordinance. In the 21st century, there are numerous sources of loud noise which need to be regulated. For example, gas-powered leaf blowers create around 115 decibels of sound.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that being exposed to this level of noise for more than 15 minutes can result in permanent hearing damage.”

Noise Free America encourages its supporters to complain about the lack of noise enforcement in Perinton to Greg Seigfred, the city’s director of buildings and codes. He maybe reached through this form.

Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens organization devoted to noise reduction.  Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include New York CityHuntington, New York; and the Buffalo Bills.