HARWICH — Residents along Lovers Lane were not showing much affection for their neighboring farmer when they came before selectmen Monday night to complain about incessant roosters crowing.
Lovers Lane resident Audrey Greenway initially thanked selectmen for the assistance she has received from town officials over issues she has had with the Resilient Family Farm at 35 Chatham Rd., but she said she needed more help.
“The situation is more untenable with a rooster or several roosters crowing at 3 a.m.,” Greenway told selectmen. She said several neighbors are having trouble sleeping and they need help mediating the problem. She said they understand the crowing is not subject to the town's noise bylaw.
“We feel like we're in the middle of a ping pong game,” she said of speaking with Animal Control Officer Jack Burns, who suggested the neighbors go to town hall, which sent them back to Burns. Burns then sent them to the selectmen, she said.
There are children and people with work schedules who are being affected, she said. Greenway said there are studies that show chronic sleep deprivation can cause health problems.
“He's not being a courteous neighbor,” Greenway said of farm owner Barry “Dino” Viprino. “We've approached the farmer directly. Is there anything you can do here to help us out?” She asked if there was any bylaw that can be crafted that can help mediate the situation “so we can all live there peacefully.”
Greenway asked if appointments have been made to re-establish the town's agricultural commission. Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill said some appointments have been made, but not enough to constitute a committee. He said Town Administrator Christopher Clark is overseeing agricultural issues.
Viprino, in an email to The Chronicle later in the week, stated: “I have been in communication with neighbors for the past few weeks, attempting to voluntarily mitigate the situation without any cooperation from the town or its offices. The town has actually actively prevented me from making the necessary changes, which I have offered to do, causing the issue to go on longer than necessary.”
Viprino sent an email to Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill the day after the selectmen's meeting, stating his willingness to sit down with town counsel and all the parties involved. In it he said he has spoken directly to five neighbors in the past few weeks.
“I am more than happy to work cooperatively with members of the neighborhood, rather than battle litigiously,” he stated in the email to MacAskill.
In his email to The Chronicle, Viprino stated: “Audrey has refused my attempts to speak directly with her and to work cooperatively together. The town and Audrey are the difficult parties in this situation, and they are attempting to place the blame at my feet. I have offered an olive branch on numerous occasions, only to be ignored by the town and many neighbors.”
Clark said he was on the phone with neighbors last Friday and explained there is an issue with the regulations because it limits the town on what it can do in regards to farm noise Clark said a few people who have worked with the farmer could reach out. He said Burns has resolved issues in the past. Clark said if the roosters are kept in dark places and cannot see the light, they will not crow.
Clark said Burns, Police Chief David Guillemette and himself will visit the farm. “We'll go down and chat to see what we can do to find peace in the neighborhood,” he said.
Lovers Lane resident Annalise Mecham said she is a working mom with two jobs and cannot open her windows. The roosters crow from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m., disturbing her family.
“Who are the bylaws there to protect, the person making the noise or the people who are affected by it?” Mecham inquired. “A new bylaw needs to be in place because there is a public nuisance in the neighborhood.”
Lovers Lane resident Pamela Rodriquez also said she has talked with Clark about the noise. She said the farm is in a small residential area and the roosters crow all day. Rodriquez said she has to abide by noise regulations with her dog or when she is playing music.
“My livelihood is impacted by this,” Rodriquez said of losing sleep.
“I don't have peace at any price,” Lovers Lane resident Joanne Bell said. “The incessant rooster doesn't stop. You couldn't endure what we're experiencing,” she told selectmen. “This is called, to me, disturbance of the peace.”
MacAskill said he would meet with Clark on the issue Wednesday and the residents will be informed when the matter will be placed on the board's agenda.