OC Plans To Investigate Boardwalk Noise Levels

OCEAN CITY – Noise has always been a concern on the Boardwalk, but with reports that some of the loudest racket is obscene, the City Council and the Ocean City Police Department are teaming up to put a stop to it and perhaps preserve the town’s family first image.

At Monday’s City Council meeting and Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting, the subject of noise on the Boardwalk came up, most notably, the obscenities blaring from the speakers of several Boardwalk shops, played at increasingly high decibel levels as the evening wears on, as per reports.

According to Councilman Doug Cymek, who has been on the Boardwalk recording decibel levels around these shops, said that the language in the songs that were coming from the speakers was “just the vilest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Both the council and the commission have been taking advisement from City Solicitor Guy Ayres on just how to enforce the “sometimes complex” ordinance that deals with this matter.

According to Ayres, section 30-272-2B of the city code covers music resonating from the public realm, which would include excessively high levels of sound or obscene language as being a disturbance of the peace and punishable by a municipal infraction, or a fine.

The gray area, according to some in the police department, however, is the origin of the obscene music.  Simply put, the law would punish sounds originating from the public realm of the Boardwalk, but may not necessarily apply to sounds coming from private shops.

In item 2-C of the same section of the town code, the shops would be in violation of the noise ordinance but it would only be enforceable after midnight, which, according to Cymek, is long after countless families and visitors have been exposed to it.

“I was at a store three times from 7:30 to about 11 p.m., last weekend, and it gets progressively louder as the night goes on,” said Cymek. “You should see the faces of families who walk by and the things they say to one another as they walk by.  It is not good for this town.”

In addition, the town’s outdoor display ordinance requires businesses to turn their speakers into the store, rather than project them out on the Boardwalk. However, that rule only applies north of 3rd Street, which in the case of Cool Topics, a store on 1st Street known for its sale of the controversial product Salvia in addition to its attachment to noise complaints, some say it’s exempt from turning their speakers inward.

Either way, there is a 50-foot rule in the noise ordinance, meaning that music or noise should not be audible in a 50-foot radius around the property. Unfortunately, according to Cymek, it’s time sensitive and doesn’t take effect until midnight.

“They can’t play this type of music on public radio, so how can they be allowed to blare obscenities on the Boardwalk,” queried Council President Joe Mitrecic.

Cymek concluded that the stores in question must be either playing satellite radio stations or compact discs that feature the harsh language, he described as glorifying “the killing of police officers, and blatant disregard for the female anatomy.”

Chief Bernadette DiPino has issued a plain-clothes detail or investigation of all Boardwalk shops, in addition to the ones on the town’s shortlist of repeat offenders.

DiPino plans to videotape and take decibel readings around the stores to make sure that violations would hold up in court.

Although it’s an uncover operation, Cymek said discretion is not needed.

“We want them to know that we are coming because we are going to keep coming until they are in compliance,” he said.