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Council Mulls Changing City’s Noise Ordinance

Back in September, the Council efforts being made in other jurisdictions, such as Baltimore County and Arlington County, to control noise from large social gatherings and from groups on public streets and sidewalks, especially in the following areas (a) Adopt an amendment allowing exemptions to City Code for special public events and establishing criteria for an exemption.

Some events, including those which the City promotes, by their nature, violate the noise ordinance. Recent revisions to the County noise regulations accommodate special events. Staff recommends that
(a) Chapter 138 of the City Code be amended to allow for certain special events.
(b) Adopt an amendment to more clearly define noise and time limits for construction and commercial property maintenance, including private trash service and parking lot sweepers. Consider changes to daytime (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) noise limits for private property maintenance such as lawn mowing and leaf blowing. Discuss and consider different weekend noise limits such as 9-5 for lawn maintenance
(c) Consider adopting an amendment to prohibit noise above the night time (8 p.m. to 7 a.m.) limits caused by loud talking, shouting, or wailing on public property. Currently, this behavior can be addressed by code enforcement through the noise code if it occurs on private property, by citations and municipal infractions to the property owner and tenants of rental properties. To enforce such a regulation on public property such as streets or sidewalks would require police to enforce.

Staff is researching the future possibility of City contract police officers being authorized to enforce the City noise code. Contract officers can currently enforce the County noise code and can abate loud, noisy behavior. They cannot at this time issue City municipal infractions.

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