Why Some Towns Are Criminalizing Summer Renovations

·2-min read
boats and waterfront houses, nantucket, massachusetts clear blue sky
Why It's Illegal to Do Renovations in the SummerOlegAlbinsky - Getty Images

Just like light pollution, noise pollution is very much a real thing—so much so that it’s a crime in some places. Most notably, the Town of Old Lyme—home to just over 7,000 residents in New London County, Connecticut—has enacted what the local government is calling the Hammer Law, which will be in effect from June 25 through September 4 of this year. It’s not that the idyllic coastal town has anything against home improvements; it just doesn’t want to hear all the noise associated with them during peak vacation season.

The law, which is officially dubbed the Town of Old Lyme Noise Control Ordinance, was enacted “to protect, preserve, and promote the public health, safety and welfare insofar as they are affected by the creation and maintenance of excessive or unnecessary noise as defined by this chapter.” That may sound a little intense (and subjective), but hear the law out: A quaint and historic New England city situated along the water is arguably best enjoyed during the summer months, so we can understand why longtime residents may not welcome the constant and loud noise associated with construction. The law prohibits renovations for only 72 days!

What’s more, if you’re planning on spending the warmer months in your summer home, wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to live there in peace and quiet? In other words, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to put your home through a noisy and disruptive renovation during peak season. So if you live in the Town of Old Lyme and are wondering what constitutes law-breaking noise, peep the specifics. It's everything from “construction, reconstruction, enlargement, erection, or exterior alteration or repair (including painting) of buildings and structures, including but not limited to driveways, patios, walkways and similar paved surfaces” to “draining and filling of pools.”

If you’re a Town of Old Lyme resident, take note! You have a bit over a month to finish your renovation projects or open your pool for the season. Though it may be too early to tell, we see the Hammer Law spreading to other small coastal cities in the U.S. because, let’s face it, who wants constant noise around their beach house? In fact, Miami Beach has enacted a similar law, as has another town in Connecticut. It’s only a matter of time before quite a few cities dotting the coasts make summertime construction illegal.

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