Monday, December 10, 2012

Hearing on County Noise Control Exception, Dec. 19

The following is making the rounds in Columbia Town Center. I'm told by a neighbor who is tracking this issue that a specific venue of interest is Merriweather Post Pavilion. Concert organizers there don't want to be subject to sound level restrictions. (I had mixed results with preserving links in the original message when I copied and pasted here, but the main link to the text of the bill included below seems to work.)

The agenda item Howard County Delegation Bill titled Howard County-Noise Control-Exception has been added.  

Howard County - Noise Control - Exception
Submitted by the Howard County Delegation Chairs  

FOR the purpose of prohibiting the Department of the Environment, Howard County, or a political subdivision of Howard County from adopting any sound level limit or noise control ordinances, rule, or regulation that prohibits the electronic amplification of sound between certain hours at an outdoor concert venue with a certain capacity in Howard County; and generally relating to the adoption of sound level limits and noise control ordinances, rules, regulations that prohibit the electronic amplification of sound in Howard County 

The bill's pdf is too big to link to the TC News Flash.  The web address to read the bill is
Public Notice Hearing on Local Bill Legislation   
Scroll down to HO.Co.09-13 (LR 710)  Or, you can email and I will email it to you as an attachment.

The Howard County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly, chaired by Delegate Guy Guzzone and Senator James Robey, will hold a public hearing for citizen input on local issues being considered by the legislature during the upcoming legislative session. The hearing is scheduled as follows: 
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 7:30 p.m.
Banneker Room, George Howard Building
3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD



Lady L said...

Several of us talked about this with Guy Guzzone tonight. The reality is that the local noise ordinance has never been effectively enforced with MPP for a number of reasons:

1) MPP was signing contracts with visiting artists containing clauses exempting them from local noise ordinances. Highly illegal but no oversight from the county or State until this summer when the Bureau of Environmental Health (BEH) got involved in the issue due to citizens providing them with readings from Sound Meter apps.

2) MPP had been allowing every visiting crew to set up sound systems and speakers any way they chose, with no guidance from the management to contain and control sound from leaving their property lines at excessive dB levels. The General Manager calls this "artistic license" and says it is guaranteed under the first amendment. This abdicated their responsibility but not their liability.

3) MPP's official sound meter that meets the requirement of state law was dusty from no use for over 7 years, again until this summer due to oversight by the BEA.

4) Local police who are hired as security with overtime pay, taking the county police budget line $500K into deficit this year alone, are not trained and have no incentive to enforce the legal limits.

What they don't realize is when they are stationed in front of the stage they are being hit with 90-110 dB's for three hours during evening concerts or upwards of ten or more hours in all day shows, which destroys nerve impulses and ear cilia, generates carb cravings, and creates such a level of over-stimulation in the nervous system that it inhibits sleeps and dulls awareness of the pain at a conscious level but activates pain responses such that most people use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. This effect lasts for days and weeks after an exposure. Hearing loss at these levels includes moderate post-exposure temporary threshold shifts (TTSs) that correlated well with personal exposure doses and permanent hearing loss of more than 30 dB at various frequencies in the 250 to 6000 Hz range in 29% of the subjects.

5) Local police refuse on every occasion to investigate complaints about the noise levels at MPP. They claim that the county has only two official sound meters that can be used in court, and there are only two officers trained to use them. This past season never the twain met: none of them were in the same place at the same time during a concert. They did finally investigate once this season when Historic Oakland was putting out 83 dB before 10 pm but no citations were issued there either.

6) One sergeant told a citizen requesting an investigator when Sound Meter read 83 dB on May 12 during “Metal Mayhem” that MPP was Ken Ulman’s “Special Exemption.”

If county law had been enforced properly, fines of $10,000 could be levied against the artists and MPP for each violation. This would go a long way toward covering the police budget deficit. Just 50 of them, one per event this season, could have covered it. Only 25 if both the venue and the artist paid up…

Jan Bowman said...

A Special Thanks for putting this information out to the general public. The noise levels described coming from MWPost over the past few years has become excessive and perhaps the problem has gotten worse as the technology to produce such intensely focused "noise" has developed - at a faster pace than local officials can even begin to understand. The impact of this noise on residents should NOT be underestimated. I have lived at Town Center since 1984 and I have HEARD it grow steadily worse. People who don't live around here have NO idea how loud it gets from May until September. WE NEED TO KNOW WHERE TO SEND LETTERS -- WRITE LETTERS - COMPLAIN - GO TO THAT MEETING!

Anonymous said...

Wow Lady L, your information and 'facts' couldn't be further from the truth!! The misinformation on the police pay (most of the officers are on regular detail and assigned MPP concerts) and their location 'in front of the stage' is completely incorrect (police are stationed only at MPP gates or in the vehicle traffic/parking areas).

As for the real issue - noise levels -, MPP is constantly monitoring, addressing and regulating the noise from the artists and patrons, adhering to scheduled time restrictions and working with the community.

The MPP exception is common sense for the community, as the proposed levels are ridiculously low and would greatly impact the quality of the music which could impact artist participation and take revenue away from MPP and the surrounding businesses and neighborhoods and the county itself.

Time for the community to look at the bigger picture and focus on embracing MPP and what it's concerts do for your community.

Mathew Rodgers said...

I think it is time to form a concerned noise committee for Meriwether and Blandair Park. I live right in the middle of the mess. I already have over 60 followers in Columbia, and an extensive email list of followers. If politicians cant fix it elections will. Email me at I am forming the driving force in Columbia to stop what should be a common sense approach to the noise issue. Amplified noise need to be controlled!