Residents accuse Hebrew Home of noise code violations

By MIAWLING LAM

The Hebrew Home at Riverdale allegedly violates noise ordinances and routinely breaches the city’s quiet hours, according to nearby residents.

Neighbors claim the nursing home’s air-conditioning units emit a loud, continuous rumbling noise and that their houses tremble when nightly delivery and dumpster trucks perform their functions.

Dr. Eugene Zappi, who resides on Palisade Avenue, broached his concerns at last Tuesday’s Community Board 8 general board meeting and said his quality of life has been severely affected.

The dermatologist, who has lived in the area for 15 years, said he has put up with the noise pollution for the past three years but was now fed up with the “untenable noise source situation.”

He said noise levels were in clear breach of the legal decibel limit and added that he wrote to the Hebrew Home late last month urging them to undergo mitigation.

As of press time, the Hebrew Home had yet to respond to Dr. Zappi’s letter. The nursing home declined to provide a comment.

“Inside the house, I routinely measure above the 45 decibels legal limit, which makes us unable to open our windows,” he said.

“In my garden, I measure up to 70 decibels of noise, which makes the garden unusable for my family in the summer.”

Comparatively, 50 decibels is the equivalent of moderate rainfall, 60 decibels is a clothes dryer, and 70 decibels is busy traffic or a vacuum cleaner.

Dr. Zappi also said nightly delivery trucks and dumpster collections were flouting local laws mandating quiet hours. Under those stipulations, only ambient sounds should be heard between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The resident said he has planted 10 evergreen trees—a row of hemlocks and a half-dozen pine trees—in order to dampen the sound, but to no avail.

“The noise from 16-wheeler trucks with air brakes pulling in and throttling out of the entrance at night reverberates and makes my house tremble,” Dr. Zappi said.

“My wife and I have had to move out of the master bedroom facing the street and move to a smaller bedroom in the back of the house because of the noise.”

Department of Environmental Protection officers have been called three times but have conducted readings on only one occasion. During their site inspection, authorities recorded noise levels above the 45-decibel legal limit but failed to issue a summons.

Dr. Zappi said news of the Hebrew Home’s recent acquisition of the adjacent 14-acre plot, sold to them by the Passionist Fathers of Riverdale, spurred him to come forward with his complaints.

According to Daniel Reingold, the home’s president and CEO, authorities are looking into establishing a meditation center, an underground garage and a consolidated entrance in the new space.

“I want the neighbors and the community to be aware of what the implications are of an enlarged noise-pollution footprint in terms of the quality of life and property values,” Dr. Zappi said.

CB8 environment committee chair Rosemary Ginty was reluctant to act on the grumbles and said it was prudent to wait until the Hebrew Home responds.

“I think we should let this sit for a bit,” she said. “It’s my hope that there will be a response, and if not, we’ll figure out something to do to move forward.”

Meanwhile, CB8 land use chairman Charles Moerdler last week revealed the nursing home was in no rush to push forward with its expansion plans.

“As of last Friday [February 10], they have not yet even hired an architect to start laying out where they are or where they’re going,” he said.

“I think we are quite a bit away in terms of time before anything substantive happens there.”

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