Mon09012014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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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

CB School Board continues requests for federal funds

At last week’s Town Council meeting the agenda was short but conversation was long particularly when it came to the subject of the School Board’s request for allocation of federal funds in the amount of $360,000.
Mayor Fred Rummage made a motion to add the request to the agenda saying the School Board has requested federal funds that have not been used and up to this time have not been authorized by the town.
Councilman Ronald “Sparky” Ridgely voiced an objection to the mayor’s request to add the item to the evenings agenda saying: “The town manager requested data from the school superintendent two weeks ago and that same information is requested from all department heads or agencies requesting any change in appropriations. With this information, the budget committee, the CFO, the town manager and town attorney would have the necessary time to review the material and to discuss it tonight.”
Ridgely stated that the package was received late Tuesday afternoon and that Town Manager Val Foulds continues to go over this information and the parties involved have not had any opportunity to collectively review this information.
Ridgley ended by saying: “There is no recommendation one way or the other coming out of the Budget and Finance Committee tonight as a result of it and I urge my colleges to reject adding this to the agenda tonight because we simply aren’t ready for it.”
Rummage replied: “I will press the issue. If the council is dissatisfied with that they can make a motion to strike it and it will have to be voted on.”
Ridgely moved immediately to strike Rummage’s motion strike and Ridgely’s motion was seconded.
Council member Steve Kennedy questioned whether the issue could

Linda Farneth
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