Monday, April 9 – City Noise Board Seeks Some Authority

OCEAN CITY – After having problems in the past in getting
property owners to meet with members of the Noise Control Board following noise
violations, the Mayor and City Council pledged to look into a method to
increase the incentives for the owners to attend a meeting when they are
required to do so.

The Noise Control Board met with the Mayor and City
Council on Tuesday to express their concerns with certain property owners who
are playing off the fact that the board has no authority to take action against
them after failing to meet with the board when asked to.

According to members of the board, it is a common practice
to send a certified letter to the owner when their property receives a noise
violation, either from an officer enforcing the 50-foot rule or from using a
noise meter that detects decibel levels over the allowed amount.

In the past, a letter requiring a meeting would only be
sent if the property received two meter violations. However, as a preemptive
measure, the board began to ask owners to come in on their first violation,
regardless if it was a meter or 50-foot violation.

Most of the time owners come in after they receive the
first letter but members said some owners have become “sophisticated” and turn
a deaf ear, flaunting the board’s lack of power.

As for a solution, granting the board power to fine these
owners or hold their license for the following year was tossed around but the
board said it wasn’t really seeking more power, just incentives to get these
owners to come in to speak with the board on ways to prevent further noise
violations.

One way would be to recognize two violations of the
50-foot rule as a valid reason to schedule a meeting since District Courts
recognize it and impose fines. Mayor Rick Meehan said this may work but he
would like to see a push for more meter use since it produces more
documentation.

Even if the 50-foot rule violations were reason enough to
call for a meeting, there is still the issue of property owners living too far
away to respond in time or clerical mistakes getting in the way of letters ever
making it to their destinations.

A more reasonable measure mentioned was if the owner
failed to make it to that first meeting, their license for the following year
would be suspended until they did come in and talk with the board. However,
this is where legal issues began to arise and council members decided a work
session with City Solicitor Guy Ayres would have to be planned to look over the
details of granting the Noise Control Board such power.

It
was then that Councilman Jim Hall told the board to write up a list of changes
they would like to see and promised that the council would set aside some time
to look into granting them the assistance they need. 

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