As It Happens

Vermont church 'bells' take their toll on neighbours

When Christ the King church replaced its bells with an outdoor sound system last summer, neighbours in the city of Burlington, Vermont immediately deemed it an unholy noise.
In this April 29, 2015 photo, parents pick up their children at the end of the school day at Christ the King School in Burlington, Vt. The church's sound system that plays recorded bells and hymns has struck a chord with some neighbors, who find it noisy and intrusive. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke) (The Associated Press)

When Christ the King church replaced its bells with an outdoor sound system last summer, neighbours in the city of Burlington, Vermont immediately deemed it an unholy noise.

Katie Berk (Psychology Today's Therapy Directory)

Katie Berk, a psychologist who works from home, is part of a community group of about 30 people demanding that the church's electronic noise cease.

"I don't particularly like the chime sound," Berk tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "I don't like that it's music and I don't like that it's hymns and religious music. If it was a next door neighbour who put speakers on their house and [they were] playing music that I liked, say jazz or something, I would still have a problem with that."

The church's carillon system rings three times a day — at noon, 2:45 p.m. and 6 p.m. — and also following funerals and weddings.

Christ the King Church bells playing in Burlington, Vermont 0:12

Berk says she's adjusted her schedule at her psychology practice to avoid hearing the church's noise during her break. She lives about a block away.

"We'd like them to either stop playing or we'd like them to move their speakers so that they are played within the boundaries of their own property or within their church," she says. "They can enjoy their system, while the rest of us can enjoy what originally had been complete silence.

Berk says that the noise is illegal under Burlington's noise ordinance bylaw, but the city insists the parties participate in mediation before escalating the neighbours' complaint.


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