Council Adds More Teeth To Resort Noise Laws

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council approved two ordinances this week having to do with an amendment to paid parking enforcement dates and an increase in fines when it comes to noise complaints.

In late November, Public Works Director Hal Adkins brought to the council’s attention confusion among regarding dates of paid parking enforcement.

Adkins explained historically the town would commence paid parking on April 1 of each year and end it in October, but by resolution the dates were removed and replaced with “specific weekends" to allow the town the ability to maximize potential revenues due to the fluctuation in the date of Easter and the growing calendar of special events.

The ordinance’s intent was to create a situation in which the Cale Machines would not be in effect on certain weekdays during shoulder seasons to enhance the attractiveness of visitors into the downtown area without having to pay to park but reinstated “date sensitive” enforcement.

The amendment states, “$1.50 per hour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting the first Saturday in April or Good Friday, whichever occurs first, through the Sunday prior to Memorial Day weekend, except that said charge shall also be in effect on the Thursday before each weekend of Springfest and Car Cruizing, with all other days in said time period without charge.”

Also, “$1.50 per hour from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day”, and “$1.50 per hour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from the Friday after Labor Day through the third Sunday of October, except that said charge shall also be in effect on Thursday before each weekend of Bike Week, Sunfest and Car Cruizing, with all other days in said time period without charge.”

The council voted to create a new ordinance to resolve the conflict between the existing ordinance and the resolution relative to the dates paid parking is currently enforced at the work session of Nov. 13, 2012. This week the council voted 6-0, Councilman Joe Mitrecic absent, to approve the ordinance on second reading.

Next, the council voted 6-0 to pass an ordinance on first reading to make several amendments to the city’s code regarding noise, including increasing the municipal infraction fine to $1,000.

Last month Noise Control Board Chairman Brett Wolf came before the council with several recommendations in enhancing enforcement of the town’s policies regarding noise originating from properties.

“We are here asking for changes to the noise code to give us the opportunity to better partner with the police in maintaining peace and quiet while assisting property owners in monitoring their noise levels and a resolution to their noise related problems,” Wolf said at that time. “We believe these changes will provide the Noise Board with the mechanisms necessary to do our job and help a healthy and happy community for our residents and visitors alike.”

Ocean City’s code states, “It shall be a municiple infraction for the owner of any property for which there must be a permit pursuant…to fail to excersice due diligence…in controlling noise on or emanating from his property , which infraction shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $400.” The amendment will change that amount to $1,000.

The next change requires a Noise Board hearing after two or more incidents and to consider it a municipal infraction if the property owner does not appear for the hearing, punishable by a fine of $1,000. This request resulted from the lack of property owners showing up to Noise Control Board hearings over their problem properties.