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Letter: Here's how to make sure Merriweather noise is not excessive

10:18 AM EDT, June 19, 2012

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NMBY to us means "No More Back Yard."

When we bought our condo in Town Center in November 2010, no one told us that sound levels two miles away at Merriweather, or even .2 miles away at Historic Oakland, would continually exceed levels allowed by state and county law. My calls last year had no effect on sound levels at Historic Oakland. Within two minutes of my call Saturday night, June 16, levels fell appropriately and ended by 11 p.m. Here's why.

Investigation and enforcement of noise levels are "complaint-driven," according to the Community Hygiene Program Officer of the Health Department, at 410-313-1773. State and county levels for "amplification by electronic means" are 64 decibels from 7 am to 10 p.m., 55 decibels between 10 and 11 p.m., and no decibels past 11 p.m. until 7 a.m.

Check the sound outside your home, call the venue you hear, and report the sound level you are experiencing. If you have a smart phone, install a free app such as Sound Meter. Watch the range of numeric levels for a minute or so. Report your findings to the venue, then call the Health Department number and leave a message naming the venue, its sound level, and the time and date.

If you call Merriweather at 410-715-5550, Jen reports your call to the General Manager Jean Parker who is at ext. 202. Call Historic Oakland at 410-730-4744. If no one answers, leave the time, date, level, and a request to turn it down immediately. Then call the Health Department.

Right now in Howard County the fine for exceeding noise levels is a maximum of $100, 30 days in jail, or both. This is appropriate for a private party, where Howard County Police actually do investigate and issue citations. This provides no incentive for following up on a noise complaint effectively at commercial venues like Merriweather. It doesn't even cover the band's drinks for a night.

Howard County could be keeping up with Portland, Oregon, where fines reach as high as $5,000 per noise code infraction, plus the ability to cite a responsible noise violator multiple times in a single day. Such aggressive protection for our citizens could quickly pay for police overtime in our county, even if only for a short time. Let's fill this budget line deficit with infractions at this rate. Who can better afford it with what they make in one night: the County Council? County taxpayers? Or Metal Mayhem and Def Leppard?

Laura Mueller

Town Center