HADLEY — The Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a change of use for a former church at 8 River Dr. to be converted into a new building for the Duffy Academy of Irish Dance at its July 7 meeting.
Paul Regish, accountant at John P. Regish and Co. and owner of the Alycia Duffy Dance Academy presented the use and proposed changes to the board. Board chairman Andrew Bombardier was absent, but submitted a letter to the board which was read by board member Jason Galvin as the scorer and immediate neighbor of the building.
“We didn’t realize it was a night activity,” Bombardier said. “We are concerned about potential noise levels in an older building if the academy operates until 8.45am or 9am. [p.m.] on a regular basis, as currently indicated on their website. We would like the board to consider a limitation on the opening hours of the facility and a requirement that the owner/operator take steps to mitigate the sounds that will come out of the studio and impact this largely residential area. .
Duffy said she plans to remove the windows from the south-facing wall that is closest to the Bombardier residence and install sound-deadening ROXUL insulation, which she has done in her previous studios. Duffy added that windows will be added on the opposite wall for light and insulation.
Regish said the exterior will remain unchanged while the interior is “pretty much gutted”. The building has not been renovated since the 1980s and needs a new HVAC system. Duffy said she wants two classrooms, one larger and one smaller which will be mostly open spaces for teaching Irish dancing.
“As it happens, [Bombardier’s] the back patio if you look through the trees is directly aligned with Alycia’s studio, so we’ll know pretty quickly if there are any sound issues,” Regish said. “I can pretty much guarantee that if any problems arise we’ll fix them immediately with the soundproofing and all that stuff. The last thing we want to do is make Andy a bad neighbor, that’s for sure. If anything pops up, we’ll get to that pretty soon.
“We have to remember that we’re not talking about a live garage band or a rock concert, we’re talking about a home stereo speaker system that she plays with an adjustable volume, obviously if the neighbors get mad and say, ‘Turn it down.’ we can do this to stay compliant and keep neighbors happy,” Regish said. here if I was him as a neighbor saying, ‘I don’t want to hear it,’ so I don’t want Andy to hear it either.”
Duffy claimed she would take whatever steps were necessary to install the sound insulation because she likes happy neighbors in general, saying she would do the same even if Bombardier was not “so closely involved in the business of Hadley”.
“If he has any other comments on how to do it, I’m open to those ideas,” Duffy said. “I want to make sure I can do business. I’m open to things that would make the neighbors happy and that kind of stuff, I want to make sure that I’m approachable and have those conversations and know that I take it very seriously because I want myself live in the woods and I don’t want anyone to ruin that serenity. I hope to be accessible and also want to make sure I can do business within those limits.