Noise from tractors, dogs leaves residents with a headache

By Andrea Ray | Jul 24, 2017
Courtesy of: Rochester Country Fair Committee

Rochester — A theoretically routine update on Rochester’s annual Country Fair turned sour on July 24, when fairground neighbors complained to Rochester’s Board of Selectmen about an overload of noise from the fairgrounds.

Two separate issues devolved from the complaints; the noise from the Country Fair and successive tractor pulls, and the noise from dog training which occurs up to four days per week on the same property.

Paul Costa, a resident of Quaker Lane, complained of the noise from the tractor pulls, of which there have already been two in 2017, with another multi-day pull scheduled for the Country Fair itself. “Three families have already moved from the area because of all the noise from the tractor pulls,” he said. “You’re turning our backyards into Seekonk Speedway.”

A number of other Quaker Lane and Pine Street residents concurred, inviting the Rochester Selectmen to sit inside their houses to listen to the noise.

Country Fair Committee co-chair Dave Souza noted that most of the noise from the events dies off by about 9:30 p.m., to which Costa stringently objected. “No it isn’t. We live there. It isn’t quiet at all.”

“I can see your point,” mused Selectman Woody Hartley. “There are scheduled to be tractor pulls every day, all day, for three days. That’s a reasonable concern for a neighborhood.”

Souza explained that the tractor pull is actually the biggest draw of the fair. “Westport has a five-day tractor pull,” he pointed out.

“I don’t know how close that pull is to other residents,” Hartley said. “I suggest we consider a draft schedule of events in the future, several months in advance, so the neighborhood could see what the committee is considering for events.”

The tractor pulls weren’t the only issue on the table though. Several residents near the fairgrounds complained of the noises from the Southcoast Working Dog Club, which has permission from the Selectmen and the Country Fair Committee to use the fairgrounds for training.

Preston Costa of the Southcoast Working Dog Club said that the club has permission to work on the fairgrounds year-round, from 10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturdays. He emphasized that they often do not use all of those days, and are never there for the full day either.

“You’ve been there at 9 p.m. before, well after 7:30,” contended Judy Simpson, of 102 Quaker Lane. “You put the dogs that aren’t working in the cars, and then they bark, bark, bark.”

Preston Costa denied that was the case. “The dogs are not allowed to bark, in obedience training or while in the car,” he said. “I consistently walk around to make sure none of them are barking.”

Several residents asked if the Country Fair Committee received any compensation for allowing the club to practice on the fairgrounds.

Sullivan-Morgado explained that there weren’t any monetary benefits, which led neighbors to question why the committee would even allow the training.

“There is a benefit,” Sullivan-Morgado said. “The club keeps the grounds extremely clean and maintained for us, and we’ve noticed far fewer incidences of vandalism while the dogs consistently practice there.”

Simpson pointed out that the Southcoast Working Dog Club was planning to host a fundraiser on the Country Fair fairgrounds on September 18, which caught Hartley’s attention. “We haven’t been notified of any kind of fundraiser on the grounds,” he said. “If that is happening, it should be shut down.”

He continued, noting, “This is a much more serious discussion than we can settle tonight. We need to talk about the dog club, and we need to talk about using the grounds for fundraisers.”

Hartley made a motion to include the dog club on the board’s August 7 meeting agenda for further discussion.

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