Germantown couple: children too noisy

Nick Stroman

A dispute between Little Oaks Child Care and a retired couple living nearby led the Germantown Hills Village Board to take a second look at their noise violation ordinance on Sept. 11.

Melanie Meismer filed a complaint with the village after she said the noise of children running and playing outside at the child care facility was louder than normal and would carry over to her and her husband, Kevin’s, property line in the 400 block of Mackenzie Place.

“We can hear it whether in the backyard or inside the house, and I have to turn up the television just to drink coffee or read the paper to drown it out,” Meismer said.

Village trustee Jim Booth and village clerk Ann Sasso visited the Meismer home several times in August, both together and independently, to see if the complaint was valid.

Booth and Sasso also interviewed neighbors and watched a 25-minute video the Meismers shot of the children playing over a three-week span at what they considered peak periods of noise.

Booth said during his visits, he could hear the ongoing and steady sounds of children playing from the couple’s backyard with spiked incidents of squeals.

“But I also heard dogs, mowers, birds and traffic,” Booth said.

Sasso said her observations were similar and the loudness from all the background noise was the same.

“I even opened the door to village hall one day to see if I could hear anything from here and you couldn’t,” Sasso said.

In interviews with neighbors, Sasso said one resident could hear the children playing from his home as well, but it did not bother him.

Meismer said she wished the play area could be moved or some kind of “noise buffer” be constructed to make the neighborhood quieter.

“We pay taxes and need the quiet, and I don’t want to live like this the rest of my life,” Meismer added.

Owner John Crawford said he does not want to be a bad neighbor, but his facility provides a valuable community service and noise from children is not unexpected.

Crawford added he could even bring charges against the couple.

“I want an immediate cease and desist on the videotaping of the children because it is a violation of the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, and I could prosecute you,” he said.

After the two sides made their statements, Booth made a motion the complaint against Little Oaks was not in violation of the village noise ordinance.

The board voted unanimously to dismiss the complaint, with John Ford abstaining.

In other action and discussion, the board:

• approved revisions to the sign policy for businesses approved at the Aug. 28 meeting.

Changes include: signs cannot unreasonably obstruct vehicular or pedestrian movement or visibility, the top of a sign must not be more than 4 feet high, the sign must not blow out of position or blow down and a nearby light cannot act as external illumination.

Mayor Marv Johnson also said some businesses have been stopping by village hall to pick up banner permits, but he wants to remind them the property owner is solely responsible for securing the permits.

• agreed to create a new bright sign emphasizing cleanliness for the village hall recycling dropoff because some residents had left items which are not accepted.

“We had stuff like garden hoses laying out there and it created a big mess the other day,” Sasso said.

“It should read ‘this site will close immediately if you can’t keep it clean,’” Booth said.

Trustees also discussed putting out a trial survey to see how many residents would be interested in curbside recycling pickup.

• and voted to withhold payment to Shive-Hattery for the recent chip seal coat project until the work is redone and satisfactorily completed.

A number of complaints have been coming into village hall since early August after vehicles, driveway and roads were damaged just a few days after the seal coating began.

The mayor said the engineers were invited to attend village board meetings to discuss the poor status of the project, but no one showed up.

“You have an engineer that’s come out here and thinks the work is just fine, but it’s not. And, we’re not paying,” Johnson said.