- Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:51
- Published on Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:51
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The Colonial Beach Town Council held a public hearing at its April 8 meeting on proposed changes to the noise ordinance. The proposed ordinance’s focus on timing raised concerns with council members
The rewrite of this ordinance came in the wake of a Virginia Supreme Court decision that challenged the use of decibels to determine if noise was deemed a nuisance to others.
The biggest concern citizens had with the new noise ordinance was the time that noise was restricted particularly in regard to residential areas.
The new ordinance restricts noise that is plainly audible between 12:01 a.m. and 7 a.m. (i) inside the confines of the dwelling unit, house or apartment of another person or (ii) at 50 or more feet from the device, except for devices permitted to be used at public parks of recreation fields, sporting events, school-sponsored activities on school grounds or duly authorized parades, public functions or commemorative events.
Residents are worried that with the time designation and no mention of decibel restriction it leaves the possibility for people to create noise at a disturbing level the rest of the time.
After public comment was heard, discussions between council members revealed they too shared concerns that the ordinance left too much time for people to legally disturb the public.
Council member David Coombes asked for the rationale for limiting the violations to between 12:01 a.m. and 7 a.m. Police Chief Christopher Hawkins replied that in the past that was the time limit used and it had not been changed in the new ordinance.
Coombes verified with Hawkins that they had no legal recourse during the hours of 7:01 a.m. and 12 a.m. He recommended changing the time limit to an earlier, more reasonable hour.
Coombes questioned the decibels comment. The reason the town chose to use the audible standard instead of decibels is that the town would have to maintain meters and each officer would need to carry one as well as be trained in its use. The equipment would also have to be calibrated on a regular basis. Using the decibel standard would cost too much money and would not hold up in court as well as the audible standard.
Vice Mayor Trish King questioned whether or not the time limit can be left out of the ordinance.
Mayor Fred Rummage suggested passing the ordinance as is and revamping it later.
Coombes was leery about passing an ordinance that needed changing.
Councilman Stephen Kennedy agreed with Coombes that there are circumstances that arise when annoyances occurred during the day and people are entitled to piece and tranquility.
Rummage then suggested referring it back to the committee.
“I think that everyone has just as much right to enjoy their yard as the ones making the noise,” Councilman Ronald “Sparky” Ridgely said. “I don’t care if it is 10 in the morning or 10 at night. I’m not in favor of fixing it later.”
Councilwoman Karen Payne asked about the need to re-advertise if the ordinance was passed and later changed.
Attorney Erard said the issue of time was not advertised so it would be permissible to change that before passing the resolution that evening.
Coombes motioned to remove the hours, Kennedy seconded. Ridgely, Coombes, King and Kennedy all voted aye and Payne, Lyburn and Mayor Rummage all voted nay.
The other ordinances drew little attention on their changes, but a concerned citizen, Allen Jay Jarvis, asked the council to look at changing Ordinance 584 on Beaches and Waterways section 5-10 which allows dog owners to walk their dogs on the boardwalk during the months of October -May during the off season to allow bikes and skateboarders to use the boardwalk at this time too. Jarvis asked, “if someone can walk a [dog] along the boardwalk, would it be OK for that same period of no activity to allow the kids on the skateboards and me on my bike to use the boardwalk at that time?”
Erard explained that the issue was not a part of the changes, so it was not open for change at this time but the council seemed receptive to looking into the matter.
The council passed Ordinances 583 concerning Motor Vehicles and Traffic as well as Ordinance 584 on Beaches and Waterways.
The Council also approved the lease of town owned property at 108 Taylor Street to Maryann Day for the purpose of running a food vending business known as Crazy Days Snack Shack for $600 a month from May to September totaling $3,000 for the year with each year increasing by 10 percent.