The new ordinance calls for the abolition of the use of any electrical, mechanical or hydraulic machinery that according to the terms of the ordinance "vibrates as a result of its normal or abnormal operation and disturbs the peace, quiet and enjoyment" of residents in residential areas and complexes.
"If there's a bad transformer, or a loud bar with music that causes vibration, these are all finable offenses," said township spokesman Craig Schmalz. "This ordinance is to protect residents."
If anyone is found guilty of the new law, they would face a fine of as much as $500 or 30 days in prison or both. If the violation continues for a certain number of days, then each individual day would be considered a violation.
The new law stems from a series of complaints filed by residents of the Liberty Terrace apartment complex against their landlord, Herman Vorhand of Lakewood, over a series of problems, including what they said was a lack of heat and hot water going back as far as five years ago.
The heat and hot water issue is currently being reviewed by the North Bergen Rent Leveling Board, which will determine if the residents are due any past rent for their repeated inconveniences.
This ordinance is just another avenue for the residents to voice their displeasure about the way they have been treated by Vorhand over the years.
Inez DeSalvo, who is the president of the Liberty Terrace Tenants Association, brought the problems to the attention of the Board of Commissioners, especially after lodging several complaints that residents had been dealing with the noises and the vibrations coming from a boiler and hot water pump in the complex's basement.
"Since the beginning of this year, it's been like a humming, whistling sound," said DeSalvo, who has lived in the complex for the last 37 years. "I can't sleep. I put earplugs in to block out the noise. It's extremely nerve-wracking."
What's that noise?
DeSalvo said that several complaints were made to Vorhand about the noises, but much like the lack of heat and hot water for years, nothing was done.
So DeSalvo decided to take the matter to a higher source.
After local and state health officials inspected the area and ascertained that there was a noise and vibration problem there, they realized that no legal action could be taken because there wasn't an ordinance in place against "excessive vibrations or disturbing noises."
Vorhand did not return phone calls in time for this report.
North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco applauded the ordinance because it will enable the residents to live with some sense of peace and quiet.
The ordinance specifically states that appliances such as water pumps, compressors, elevators, laundry room machinery, sound amplifiers and speakers, boilers, utility transformers and incinerators are just examples of things that could cause the excessive vibrations.
If a complaint is lodged, the landlord is now required by law to permit inspectors from the township, like the construction code official, the housing inspector and the health department inspectors, to review the machinery, as well as representatives from the Hudson County Regional Health Commission.
The heat and hot water issue with the Rent Leveling Board has been tabled from the last few meetings, but should be resolved after the Christmas holidays.