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Citizen's protest targets noisy Pearl construction project

PHOTO FOR THE TRIBUNE: ADAM WICKHAM - Organizers of a Sunday protest in front of Hoyt Street Properties said they are frustrated that the company is moving forward on plans to use noisy impact pile driving to build a new skyscraper near a kindergarten and housing. Protesters lined up outside Hoyt Street Properties Sunday afternoon to decry the Pearl District development company’s plan to use an impact pile driver to build the foundation of a new 21-story building.

The yet-unnamed project bordered by The Fields Park is a block away from The Ramona, a low-income housing project to which Chapman Elementary School’s kindergarten was moved this year.

Hoyt Street President Tiffany Sweitzer was not available for comment Monday.


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Mary Sipe organized the Sunday protest and said around 100 people attended.

“I think we’re more perplexed than anything,” Sipe said. “When a dozen other developers have been able to use the auger drill successfully, it’s perplexing that with all the additional residents in the neighborhood, Hoyt Street, and especially Tiffany Sweitzer, is choosing to use the impact hammer.”

Sweitzer has previously told the Portland Tribune that due to the soil conditions on the lot, the pile driver is the safest method.

The dispute now turns to the city of Portland’s Noise Review Board, which is expected to take up an amendment to Title 18 of the city code. The Noise Control section of the code grants an exemption to the 85 decibel limit for pile drivers and jack hammers.

Sipe said now that there is quieter technology, construction companies should have to prove to the city that they need the impact hammers, which can reach more than 100 decibels.

In the meantime, neighborhood activists are hoping Hoyt Street will apply mitigation efforts, like a noise barrier, or just switch to auger drilling.

“I get it, at this stage of the game it’s hard for them to change their plans,” Sipe said. “But it’s not impossible.”