In August 2016, Matt and Jeni Zerphy moved into their newly built home in the Toftrees area, and they were looking forward to some peace and quiet. The past few weeks have been anything but.
The couple lives on Dean’s Way, a residential street that happens to be right next the construction of a student housing development, The Station at State College.
At times, a “compactor” on the site makes their home vibrate.
It puts them “on edge,” Matt Zerphy said.
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Jeni Zerphy said she worries about the structure of their house. The vibration causes things to rattle and dishes to clank.
“It’s not horrible when they’re not running those compactors,” Matt Zerphy said.
When they moved in, Matt Zerphy said they knew there would be more construction in their neighborhood but they were under the impression it would be more single-family residential.
Work starts at 7 a.m. and often goes until 9 or 10 p.m., according to the Zerphys.
Those start and stop times are “not neighborly, at best,” Jeni Zerphy said.
With the night work comes floodlights and vehicle headlights that shine into their windows, she said.
“We have been living with our blinds closed 24/7,” she said.
Jeni Zerphy said she’s spoken to her neighbors with young kids, and they’re frustrated that their children go to sleep and wake up to the sounds of construction.
Larry Pegher, Patton Township’s director of finance and administration, said the township code doesn’t have designated start and stop times. In the past, the township has allowed contractors and developers to work 7 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.
“We are committed to being a good neighbor in State College and the Toftrees community, and we work as best we can to minimize impact to people in the neighboring areas surrounding the construction site,” a spokesperson for Georgia-based developer Landmark Properties said in an email.
“Developing an entire community from the ground up does come with some added noise, particularly for those closest to the work in progress. That said, we do our best to conduct the potentially most disruptive work during normal daytime business hours. All of our construction is completed in full compliance with policies and regulations,” the spokesperson said.
It could be that the developer is trying to make up for lost time. A state Environmental Hearing Board order halted construction of the 162-unit development at the request of Shaner Hotel Holdings Limited Partnership, citing issues with a stormwater permit.
So work was just able to resume toward the end of last month, and some students are scheduled to move in for fall semester, Pegher said.
The township also doesn’t have a noise ordinance, Pegher said, but the Board of Supervisors is discussing one at its meeting Wednesday night.
Pegher encouraged residents in support of such an ordinance to attend the meeting or write in support of it to the township.
Another of the Zerphys’ concerns is that heavy equipment and construction vehicles are using their residential street as an entrance to the development site.
The Landmark Properties spokesperson said crews are no longer using Dean’s Way as a construction entrance, and were only using it until a direct access road to the site and storage yard were completed.
In addition, the spokesperson said that crews are in the process of creating two stormwater basins near the Honors Crossing development, where Dean’s Way is located.
Once those are finished in the next four weeks, the spokesperson said, remaining construction will take place further away from the residential homes in Honors Crossing.
Aside from the work itself, the Zerphys feel there’s also a lack of communication about the construction.
“There’s what you’re required to do and then there’s what you should do,” Matt Zerphy said.
The neighbors should know what’s going on, he said, adding that the township could be getting them excited about the project rather than making them angry.
Matt Zerphy said this kind of development and activity brings jobs and more people into the neighborhood and those are good things. But, he said the people who already live in the neighborhoods should feel welcome too.
The township is working on a way to better communicate with residents, Pegher said.