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Noise Review Board Rejects Pile Driving Policy Changes

A 4-0 vote Turns Down Commissioner Fritz’s Proposal

by Stan Penkin

In a surprising vote, the Noise Review Board on March 9th unanimously rejected a noise policy change proposed by Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s office. Following the creation of a citizen noise task force late last year, the group met six times to discuss issues including: a city wide prohibition of impact hammer pile driving; the variance appeal and notification process; and the variance fee structure.

The Commissioner’s office took the task force discussions under advisement and presented its proposal that would mitigate noise issues, clarify the appeal process and set reasonable fees, all of which were turned down. Opponents of the change including representatives from Hoyt Street Properties, DeWitt Construction, a major pile driving company, and numerous construction workers attended the meeting to voice their opposition.

Mary Sipe, a Pearl resident and major advocate for change, spoke in favor of the proposal. “The majority of the people who testified were the pile driving union workers and none of them had any background information about how this all came about,” said Ms. Sipe. She further stated, “It was very apparent that the board was not going to do anything to go up against the construction industry and they tossed it like a hot potato back to BDS.”

Advocates for change have stated that impact hammer pile driving is harmful to people’s health. They have further added that innovative techniques such as the quieter auger cast method is an acceptable alternative. Proponents further urged the discouragement of impact hammer pile driving with certain certified exceptions.

Since the advent of recent advocacy efforts to mitigate impact hammer pile driving, the developers of all current and approved upcoming projects in the Pearl District have committed to utilizing other more acceptable methods. It is feared by some that the anticipated Hoyt Street Properties’ condominium project at Block 20 in the North Pearl will utilize the nosier impact hammer pile driving method as they did in the recent Block 17 project.

Additional information can be found online

The public is welcome to submit comments by email to the Noise Review Board