County puts some teeth in noise law

Enforcement now easier

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

If things don't get quieter around Charles County at least it will be easier to temporarily lower the volume.

Last week the county commissioners directed staff to prepare legislation to amend the county's noise ordinance. The change would make enforcement easier as well as make the county's code more consistent with the state's rules.

"I looked at the proposal and I compared it with Maryland law under [the Code of Maryland Regulations] and it does say that measurements should be taken at or within the property line of the receiving property, which is not what our law currently says," Assistant County Attorney Amanda Hill said.

"This amendment would actually make our law more consistent with the state law. Also, currently the way our law is written, it's a little ambiguous. Arguments could be made that measurements should be taken at one point as opposed to another and we also feel that doing [an] amendment would clear up that ambiguity and make enforcement a lot easier."

William Daniel Mayer, who is a resident of Issue and a former member of the Southern Maryland delegation to the Maryland General Assembly, sent the county the proposal.

He provided the commissioners with examples from both the Carroll County and Howard County codes on noise complaints, which are similar to the state's rules on where sound readings can be taken.

Commissioner Samuel N. Graves Jr. (D) pointed out that along with the ease of enforcement it could be safer for sheriff's officers when responding to a noise complaint if they only need to ask the permission of the offended party.

He also said the accuracy of the decibel measurement would be more precise.

"I think we have a serious noise problem in the county. In certain localized areas I think we have a severe noise problem in the county that I believe is a health issue," said Commissioner Gary V. Hodge (D). "I'm strongly in favor of Delegate Mayer's recommendation. This is something that ought to be given serious attention."

Hill said she could bring something back for the commissioners' to move forward with as early as mid-July.