Citizens Allege Project Not Following Resort Noise Law

OCEAN CITY – Exasperated with the perceived lack of
attention given to their repeated complaints of construction noise from a
project adjacent to their bayside condominium, a local couple brought their
gripes to the Mayor and Council this week in a brief meeting that ended with
charges of indifference and cronyism.

Kenneth and Carol Anders, owners of a condominium in the
Bay Princess on the north side of 81st Street, this week met with
the council to discuss a recurring construction noise problem at the ongoing
Rivendell project, which is being developed on the site of the old Hobbit
restaurant and, no pun intended, dwarfs the existing Bay Princess condominium
where the Anders have their unit.

Ocean City’s noise ordinance contains specific language
about the hours when power tools and equipment can be used on construction
projects including a 7 a.m. start time and a 5:30 p.m. finish time. However,
work at the Rivendell project has often gone on before and after the imposed
construction noise hours, according to the Anders, who have grown frustrated
with the apparent lack of enforcement of the noise ordinance.

At the heart of the issue appears to be a flaw on the
enforcement side. Noise complaints filed after regular business hours are
handled by the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD), which forwards the
complaints to the town’s Building Inspector’s office. The OCPD can tell a
construction crew to stop working before or after the designated hours, and
report the complaints to the building inspector’s office.

The building inspector’s office has the power to levy
fines of up to $500 a day for the noise complaints, but typically when they go
out to a construction site during regular business hours, the construction
noise is well within the parameters defined in the ordinance.

The Anders have filed several complaints with the OCPD and
the Building Inspector’s Office, but the noise violations continue at the
Rivendell project, they say.

“This game went on all last year,” said Kenneth Anders.
“Were they ever fined? No. I was told ‘what good is a $100 fine going to do’.”

Anders said the crews at the project almost seem to flaunt
the noise ordinance because they realize there are no apparent repercussions.

The Anders insinuated the Mayor and Council were not
interested in their problem, but Mayor Rick Meehan said that was simply not the

“Do we care? Yes,” said Meehan. “We’re glad you brought
this to our attention. I’m sure you wouldn’t be here tonight if it wasn’t a
perpetual problem.”

Meehan instructed Building Inspector Mike Richardson to
stay on top of the situation and suggested a stronger hammer than the threat of

“At some point, if they continue to ignore the problem,
you can get a stop work order,” he said. “Keep checking. Put them on notice
this is not the way to do business in Ocean City.”

Nonetheless, the Anders were inconsolable and, at one
point, Kenneth Anders said, “This is a crony, backdoor deal with your restaurant
buddy. That was an overlay and you all approved it. That’s a disgrace and a
joke and you people got away with it.”

With that said, the Anders stormed out leaving the elected
officials wondering what to do next.

“It’s unfortunate they left,” said Howard. “I would have
assured them there is no backdoor cronyism going on here. We have laws in this
town and we follow those laws.”

Some on the council said they understood the Anders’
frustration with the process.

“I understand what those people are talking about,” said
Council member Margaret Pillas. “I wish there were more avenues available to
address this. I have a similar situation in my neighborhood.”

Particularly troublesome is the issue of pouring concrete,
according to Council President Joe Mitrecic.

“This is only going to become more prevalent,” said
Mitrecic. “The other night, I was riding up the highway and saw a project where
they were pouring concrete at 6:30 at night.”

Councilman Jay Hancock said part of the problem might be a
flaw in the enforcement process.

understand their frustration. It looks like there is a serious disconnect in
the policy and the police need to communicate better with the building
inspector,” he said.