SCARSDALE, N.Y. – With most Scarsdale residents losing power during Hurricane Sandy – some for as many as 10 days – homeowners have called on the village to relax restrictions on permanent natural gas generators.
Extended power outages have become a yearly occurrence in Scarsdale, and, at Tuesday's Board of Trustees meeting, residents spoke out against what they said are stringent rules for permanent generators.
Currently, the Village Code contains a noise restriction that requires generators run no louder than 55 decibels measured at the property line, and there must be a 20-foot setback from homes. An online petition from Harry Wilson to Mayor Miriam Levitt-Flisser has been “signed” by 673 supporters asking for the village to liberalize restrictions.
“The signatures show the depth and breadth of the feelings in the community," he said Tuesday to the trustees. "Our hope is that the hurricane will force us to get to a conclusion very quickly. The way we look at it, we’re one storm away from another disaster.”
The petition calls for the noise requirement to be eliminated, arguing that outages are rarely limited to a single home; therefore many residences in a community will be creating noise. It further states that noise is the least of the village’s worries during a widespread and extended power outage.
“My neighbors on either side of me and behind me had temporary generators during the storm. It was a hum, that’s all,” a Hamilton Road resident said. “It’s something that you only have to put up with for one week out of the year.”
The 20-foot setback is also a point of contention in the community. Many properties in the village are small, and don’t have the necessary space to put a generator that far from the homes. Several homeowners that can accommodate the 20-foot setback would be forced to put the generator in the middle of the yard.
The petition calls for a requirement of three feet, which will ensure it’s still not visible from the road or by a neighbor, and would still address safety and aesthetic issues.
“I don’t have 20 feet to back off in my yard,” a Brookline Road resident added. “I have an outdoor air conditioner, why not stick it next to that? No one will notice.”
In addition to those arguments, residents added that permanent, natural gas generators are safer and cause less pollution than gasoline-powered temporary generators, and wouldn’t need to be continually filled up at all hours of the day and night. Neighborhoods darkened by power outages can be a breeding ground for crime, they said, and the generators would only be necessary during times of emergency.
The Board of Trustees is in the process of reviewing the law with the Planning Board.
“Our anger isn’t funneled toward the village. We just don’t want to have to rely on Con Edison,” a Tompkins Road resident concluded. “This is about getting a policy in place that will allow people to take care of themselves.”