Yancey Lumber Confirmed Source of “The Hum”

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R. A. Yancey lumber yard office. Photo: Theresa Curry.

White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek confirmed Friday, Oct. 19, that the noise plaguing residents for weeks has been tracked to Yancey Lumber Corporation. Alice Faintich of Old Trail, who had been one of the first to inquire about the noise, said on the night of October 17, Bill Yoder of Acentech—an acoustical consulting firm hired by Yancey Lumber—had measured the noise level near her home. She said he was working with someone inside Yancey Lumber. “The mill shut down one piece of equipment, but the noise persisted,” she said. “They then shut down a second piece of equipment and we could clearly hear the sound wind down and then disappear.”

According to Emily Kilroy, a spokesperson for the County, they recorded the hum at 64 dBA, a violation of the ordinance that limits noise to 55 dBA. In the county’s statement, Kilroy did not name the source.

Communicating through Nextdoor in the days following the investigation, county residents affected by the noise said they complained to Mallek, to the Albemarle County zoning office, and to the Albemarle County Police, that the noise was continuing as before, even after it was tracked to Yancey Lumber.

Mallek expressed concern about the noise continuing on Thursday night, after the source had clearly been identified. “I do not think the health of the nearby residents can take another month of this,” she wrote in an email to Long and Green. “Nerves are frayed now.”

Kilroy said zoning staff were working through the investigation and enforcement process.

Valerie Long, an attorney for Williams Mullen, the firm that represents Yancey Lumber, said her client was taking steps to remedy the noise, which came from a boiler that had been in long-term operation, removed several months ago, refurbished, and reinstalled in early August. The boiler is part of the kiln drying process. She said any number of factors, including weather conditions and changes to the terrain, could account for the increase in the noise from the boiler after its repair.

The diesel that had filled in for the boiler for five months while it was being repaired did not generate any noise complaints, Long wrote in a letter to Mallek, but environmental restrictions made it impossible as a permanent solution.

Long said the owners of Yancey Lumber were scrambling to fix the noise problem, including ordering a muffler for the exhaust stack that could be custom-made, expedited and delivered in as soon as a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, she said, “they’re trying all kinds of changes in their operation to see what might work to bring the noise level down.” Speaking for her clients, she said they were truly sorry for the disruption to the community and committed to fixing the problem as soon as possible.

Disruption of the drying process, which takes about 48 hours, results in warping and loss of the lumber, said David Dallas, also of Williams Mullen. Dallas said Yancey Lumber and Acentech would be monitoring the noise over the weekend and would issue another report Monday, Oct. 22.

The lumber company released this statement Sunday, October 21: Statement from R.A. Yancey Lumber Company

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