Door Stop Owner To Build Sound-Blocking Wall

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Jim Hill, owner of The Door Stop said, said he's spent more than $100,000 soundproofing his cabinet-making manufacturing business to shield his neighbors from the sound of the dust collectors on the top and sides of his building.

He said he doesn't want to deter businesses from seeking opportunities in Payson, but the three-year strife between his company and the residents of the nearby Mazatzal Mountain Airpark have curtailed his operations.

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Audiologist Tommy Cattey and owner of The Door Stop Jim Hill measure decibel levels around the perimeter of Hill's property and the adjacent neighborhood.

Hill's factory in an industrial park abuts a residential neighborhood.

"If a controversy like this was going on, I wouldn't have moved up here," Hill said.

A month after Hill agreed to a 60-day truce on an April 2006 lawsuit filed by the neighbors, he is taking steps to rectify the sound problem -- one of many attempts, he said.

On Thursday, Hill met with a Valley-based sound consultant, Tommy Cattey, who took decibel readings from the airpark community -- between a quarter and half a mile away -- and inside The Door Stop's property line.

The readings will serve as benchmarks to compare noise levels before and after the construction of sound-shielding structures.

Cattey said he wouldn't interpret the measurements. Decibels, he added, are different than perceived sound.

Jon Cadd, Town of Payson plans examiner, accompanied Cattey and Hill during the tests. He refrained from commenting on Cattey's findings and the lawsuit.

Earlier this month, Hill enlisted local contractor Mike Amon to draw up preliminary plans for an 18-foot, concrete sound-blocking wall.

Amon's estimate, including design documents, amount to $47,688.

Hill paid Amon nearly $3,000 to draw up the preliminary plans.

Hill's steps to correct the ongoing noise complaints, he said, follow an Aug. 11 meeting organized by Mayor Bob Edwards to bring both sides together.

"I'm hoping they will come up with (an agreement) on their own," Edwards said. "I would be surprised if they weren't able to do that."

Out of the 41 plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, five served as delegates at that meeting.

During the 60-day truce, according to Hill's informal summary of the agreement, the plaintiffs said they would pay the full cost of the sound-reducing wall, covering the three dust blowers that face their neighborhood.

They will ask the town to provide $12,500 of that cost.

Hill said he agreed to erect a fourth wall around the western-most dust collector.

Gordon Holm, nearby resident and lawsuit plaintiff said he and fellow neighbors, in addition to the sound structures, want Hill to adopt Tempe's noise ordinance.

According to the terms set forth in Tempe's code, industrial noise should not exceed 60 decibels from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., 70 decibels.

But relief, Holm said, hasn't happened yet.

"We're willing to help him pay for whatever it takes to quiet his business down," Holm added. "We've asked for the receipts, but he hasn't spent a dime. All we got was a lot of talk."

Noise levels taken near Holm's driveway Thursday by Cattey, registered 35 decibels. Readings taken in front of Dennis Romain's home, which is across the street from The Door Stop, registered 50.2 decibels on Cattey's equipment.

According to the League for the Hard of Hearing, the average decibel level for rainfall is 50 decibels.

Romain wouldn't comment on the details of the Aug. 11 meeting.

Hill said he had contacted the plaintiff's attorney, Maria Crimi-Speth, Wednesday, to let them know about Cattey's test, but Holm said as of press time, he hadn't had any contact with their attorney. Crimi-Speth did not return phone calls.

If they can't come to an agreement, both sides say that they are willing to pursue legal action against each other and possibly the town.

The ire began in 2004 when Citizens Against Noise and Industrial Travesties (CANIT) lobbied complaints against The Door Stop.

The group said Hill's operation created too much dust and noise.

Holm said although the dust problem has been resolved, several attempts over the years to curtail the noise issue have failed.

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