Resort Tightens Noise Rules

OCEAN CITY — The City Council officially approved two new ordinances this week, including a measure limiting the range of music and other noise and another that would require a sticker providing ownership information on rental properties.

On Monday, the council signed off on an ordinance that would prohibit music or other loud noises from extending beyond 30 feet on the beach, Boardwalk and other public areas. Prior to the adoption of the ordinance on Monday, the old standard of 50 feet established in residential areas throughout the resort was enforced on the beach and Boardwalk, but the rule change was implemented this week after concerns were raised about loud music and other noise diminishing the public’s enjoyment of the beach and Boardwalk.

The new ordinance comes under the prohibited noises section of the town’s code and reads “any radio receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph, sound amplification system or other machine or device for producing or reproducing sound on or directed toward a public beach, the Boardwalk, streets or other public ways” cannot be plainly audible outside a distance of 30 feet from its source.

Council President Jim Hall said while the ordinance covers most public areas, the intent was to limit excess noise emanating from many Boardwalk businesses.

“This is to address problems on the Boardwalk with music and loud noise blasting from some businesses,” he said.

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas, a Boardwalk merchant, agreed the ordinance’s intent was to lessen the impact of loud music and other noise on the public’s enjoyment of the Boardwalk.

“We have a 50-foot rule in residential areas, but it doesn’t work on the Boardwalk,” she said. “If you’re sitting on a bench and you hear loud music ruining your enjoyment, you have some options.”

Enforcement of the new ordinance will fall on the OCPD, which will likely tell violators to turn it down, issue citations or even make arrests in extreme cases. The 30-foot standard roughly covers the width of the Boardwalk in most areas and about the width of a standard store or business.

On a related matter, the council also approved an ordinance requiring a sticker system on rental properties throughout the resort in an effort to streamline the property owner notification system for noise violations. A similar system had been in place a few years back but was abandoned in 2009.

The new law requires all rental properties in Ocean City to conspicuously post on their front doors a sticker provided by the town’s Noise Board including information on how best to contact property owners in the event of a noise violation.

Each property in Ocean City is assigned a Property Control Number, which will be included on a sticker posted on or near the front door of every rental property in the resort. A database has been created to provide a police officer with the ability to search by control number to find and notify a property owner when a noise violation occurs. Under the current system, property owners are most often notified by mail when a violation occurs, creating a significant lag time in the process. In many cases, a second noise violation occurs before the property owner is advised of the first violation.

Councilman Joe Hall voiced concern about the rental sticker implementation process.

“I hope that we revisit this after the first year,” he said. “I think the implementation of the stickers needs to be closely watched.”

Councilman Brent Ashley, however, had high praise for the new ordinance.

“I served on the Noise Board for 22 years and I think this is a good thing,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s hard to get a hold of owner and let them know there’s a problem.”