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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

BREAKING NEWS: Chief Hawkins will remain

After a one and a half hour closed session regarding “the hiring of a police chief,” at 10:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 10, Town Attorney Andrea Erard announced “the council would like to keep the chief.” 

The closed session came at the end of a long town council meeting attended by approximately 80 citizens who came to show their support for Chief Christopher Hawkins.  Hawkins told the Journal earlier today he “would like to stay, but it’s up to the council.”  Once it became known throughout the community that Hawkins wanted to stay on at the beach, rumors had been circulating all day that the town council members were not going to offer him a new contract. 

Read more: BREAKING NEWS: Chief Hawkins will remain

Permit to practice -- $50. Nuisance to neighbor – Priceless.

As Colonial Beach Town Council struggles with reinventing the noise ordinance, at least one resident feels her hearing health has been put in danger.  Meanwhile, across town, Eleanor Park residents are moving out and the town has no plan on what to do with the waterfront property.

Public Safety
It appeared that the last of the May 27 committee meetings was about to conclude when resident Terri Rankin spoke out and strongly cautioned members on the impact of the new noise ordinance.  According to Rankin, a noise permit has been issued by Town Manager Val Foulds for a five-hour practice session for a nine-piece rock ’n’ roll band.  
Rankin advised members that the decibel level generated by a nine-piece band can reach 120 decibels.  According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, sounds louder than 80 decibels are considered potentially dangerous and can cause hearing loss. Rankin, whose home is next door to the practice session, expressed great concern over issuance of the $50 permit, citing health and safety issues.  
Rankin further told the committee that she “cannot enjoy her home” during the upcoming five-hour practice session. She recommended the current noise ordinance be modified with a three-hour limit on noise and that the “plainly audible” standard be applied.  
Plainly audible, or nuisance noise, is defined as noise that is heard when windows and doors are closed in neighboring properties. Although members appeared sympathetic to Rankin, in light of the fact that a permit has been properly issued, there is nothing that can be done.  Members did, however, instruct Foulds to attempt to “renegotiate” the permit.

Read more: Permit to practice -- $50. Nuisance to neighbor – Priceless.

Parking problems persist at Beach

It appears that Mayor Rummage overstepped his authority this past weekend, telling visitors they were allowed to park in the grass on Town Hill if they were patronizing Riverboat Restaurant. This resulted in several tickets being issued and many citizen complaints. Now Town Manager Val Foulds has issued a statement suspending the collection of tickets issued for parking on Town Hill until the matter could be investigated more closely.
A statement from council member Karen Payne said she discovered the mayor’s actions saying, “Unfortunately the mayor was under the impression that he had the authority to direct the Police Department not to enforce the new law.”
The new law Payne refers to is a parking ordinance that is the result of more than a year of council listening and responding to residents’ requests to make visitors pay for their messes.
“The new Parking Ordinance was passed by everyone on council after more than a year’s discussion and public hearings,” Payne said. “The council was responding to an overwhelming number of comments from citizens complaining about ‘freeloaders’ who were coming into town, leaving their trash behind, and not spending any money in the town. This costs the town citizens in police enforcement and Public Works trash pickup costs, to name just a few of the problems.”  

Read more: Parking problems persist at Beach

Committee meetings: No new taxes in budget

With an election seven days away for three council seats, the sitting town council has its plate full. Revenues are projected down by $163,230 for the proposed 2010-2011 budget; someone is flushing diapers and children’s clothing, which is clogging the pump at the Stratford Pump Station at the expense of thousands of dollars and hundreds of staff man-hours; and the recently passed noise ordinance will to have to be repealed before tourist season begins or town businesses will suffer. These issues and others were discussed in council committee meetings and will be on the agenda for the town council’s May 13 meeting.
At the Tuesday Budget Committee meeting held on Tuesday, April 22, Town Manager Val Foulds presented committee members with a draft budget for fiscal year 2011. Although this year’s budget continues on a downward economic spiral, no new taxes were included.
According to the draft budget, general fund revenues for the town will be down $163,230 from fiscal year 2009-10 and general fund expenses will be down $166,521, leaving the general fund with a surplus of approximately $3,000.

Read more: Committee meetings: No new taxes in budget

Noise ordinance is a nuisance for council

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.

Read more: Noise ordinance is a nuisance for council

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