Council Approves Noise Law Change

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City officials this week approved on second reading an amendment, which, if ultimately approved, will add more teeth to the resort’s noise ordinance.

In November, Noise Control Board Chairman Brett Wolf came before the council with recommendations for enhancing the enforcement of the town’s policies regarding noise emanating from properties. With thousands of summer rentals, condos, hotel rooms and private residences in the resort, noise from loud parties and other sources has always been a problem in Ocean City and the town has a strict ordinance about the level of acceptable sound and a penalty and enforcement plan.

The ordinance has been tweaked at different times over the years and Wolf and the Noise Board approached the council in early December about a proposed amendment to the existing ordinance to help ensure compliance with the law and force property owners and their representatives to show up for violations hearings at the pain of enhanced penalties.

“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 told the council in early December. “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 municipal infraction for the owner of any property for which there must be a permit pursuant…to fail to exercise due diligence…in controlling noise on or emanating from his property, which infraction shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $400.”

The code amendment approved on first and second reading will change that amount to $1,000.

The next change requires a 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.

On Monday, the council approved the proposed code amendment on second reading after City Manager David Recor suggested the amendment be tweaked to provide some relief for property resident agents who don’t live within Ocean City.

“I suggest we revisit the issue of resident agents,” said Recor. “A resident agent that lives outside town limits should be given some consideration for time to respond to complaints. I would think about 25 or 30 miles, or a 30-minute response time, seems about right.”