Sunsets at the Harlem Yacht Club won't be the same anymore. A state appellate court ruled that the club must follow the DEP's orders and stop firing a miniature cannon when the club lowers the flag. The yacht club, which is on City Island, and its residential neighbors have been facing off over the cannon firing since 2000, when the neighbors brought a petition asking the club to consider "another maritime tradition that does not impact the quality of life of your cheek-to-jowl neighbors in such a nerve-shattering fashion." From the NY Sun:
Several weeks later, a noise inspector from the city's Department of Environmental Protection traveled to City Island to investigate the complaints. Inspector J.R. Zimmerman of the Night Enforcement Unit testified that, his sound meter in hand, he "jumped" when club officials fired the cannon, and characterized the shots as both "startling" and "annoying."
The shot registered 93.8 decibels on the meter, according to the transcript, and the club was fined $350.
In an attempt to assuage the neighbors and the law, the club switched to 10-gauge from 12-gauge shot, but Mr. Zimmerman testified that even the lower-gauge shell "still sounded really loud."
After another violation and $350 fine, the club argued the charges by suing, claiming a "constitutional right" to fire the cannon. The appellate court suggested that the club, instead, fire the cannon at a lower sound level, which is confusing to us, because how will the club know what is acceptably low?
The Harlem Yacht Club says it will fight the ruling; commodore Tex Stephenson told the Sun that the NYPD's firing range might be as loud and annoying, "It's our way of respecting the flag and paying attention to the traditions of boating that go back long before any of us were alive."