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Roadwork, construction and landscaping are all factors that can lead to noise concerns in a residential area. (Credit: The Suffolk Times)

Many North Fork residents find that their neighborhoods are so quiet that the only ancillary noise they experience is the crow of a nearby rooster, joked Kristy Naddell, a licensed associate real estate broker with Douglas Elliman.

And that’s in part why so many are drawn to the area.

Others, however, can experience intermittent noise like rush-hour traffic to more constant commotion like that from a restaurant or bar, or nearby parties – especially as the North Fork becomes more popular.

“Noise pollution has come to the forefront recently,” said Jon Tomlinson, licensed real estate salesperson, Daniel Gale. “In Greenport, there is a proposed controversial code that would set the decibel limit to sixty-five on commercial properties that would be in effect on Friday and Saturday nights from eight p.m. to midnight.” Noise from helicopters and planes (many headed to the South Fork) and from commercial leaf blowers have also generated debate.

The Suffolk Times reported that the Southold Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers by commercial landscapers during early morning and evening hours, as well as all day Sundays and holidays. Supervisor Scott Russell called it “a start” at addressing widespread complaints about noise disruptions in Southold.

So how can prospective buyers suss out the noise level of the neighborhoods in which they are looking?  

Some involves common sense.

“Obviously, there is road noise if you are near Route 48 or Main Road,” said Naddell. How much you can tolerate is individual.

Other sources may be more difficult to identify.

“Potential buyers who are concerned about noisy neighborhoods should take the time to researching the area surrounding the property they are interested in,” said Tomlinson. “Are there any wineries, breweries, restaurants, public parks, beaches, marinas, or other commercial entities in the area?  Frequently commercial businesses are not visible due to trees or other landscaping. While a vineyard in your backyard can appear to be charming and bucolic, if that same vineyard is also close to a large tasting room with outdoor seating and parking, you could find yourself very unhappy trying to enjoy the serenity of your backyard on a Saturday night.”

Short of squatting on someone’s front porch, there are non-intrusive ways to get a sense of the typical amount of noise a neighborhood experiences.

“I recommend visiting a property several times during the course of the day,” said Tomlinson. “I often advise purchasers to park their car in front of a home they are getting ready to purchase — as long as it’s legal — turn off the car, open the windows and just listen. Or take a short walk up and down the street, particularly during the times they are most likely to be home. As more and more people work from home post-pandemic, they may be surprised to know how noisy a neighborhood can be during the day when mowers and leaf blowers are running.”

And if you’re in love with a property — or already a resident — and discover some noise that could be an issue, there are ways to lessen the effect.

“There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the noise [you hear on] your property,” said Tomlinson.  “Add rugs, invest in a white noise machine, use some sound-reducing curtains, install door draft stoppers, and most of all — landscaping.  Creating a barrier of trees and bushes can work wonders.”