Bill to expand hunting in Howard County put on ice

A bill that would have extended hunting on private property in Howard County on six Sundays during hunting season has been pulled from consideration by the Howard County Delegation.

Del. Gail Bates, a West Friendship Republican, said she withdrew the bill at the request of a constituent who had asked for the legislation.

Bates said her constituent wanted more time to address concerns raised by the equestrian community.

Reached by telephone on Wednesday, Feb. 20, Carroll County resident Jim Raine, who had asked for the bill to be introduced, declined comment.

The proposed bill would have removed Howard County from the list of counties in which deer hunting on private property on certain Sundays is prohibited. It would have added one day of firearm hunting and five days of bow hunting during the season.

Residents opposed to the bill said they believed that six days a week for hunters is enough.

After hearing "balanced testimony" both for and against the bill, Bates said she would consider proposing it again next year.

Merriweather decision pushed back

Merriweather Post Pavilion officials will have to wait one more week to learn if a bill relaxing noise limits on the concert venue is approved.

The delegation voted Wednesday in Annapolis to delay action on a bill that would increase the decibel level at which Merriweather is permitted to operate.

After questioning Maryland Department of the Environment officials on decibel levels statewide at concert venues, Democratic state Sen. Ed Kasemeyer asked the delegation to hold the bill a week for discussion within the delegation.

He said he expected to be prepared for a vote next week.

Merriweather General Manager Jean Parker has said these new levels won't allow acts at Merriweather to play louder, but would update county code to reflect how the concert venue has operated for years.

Under the proposal, Merriweather would be able to operate at 95 decibels within a quarter-mile radius of the pavilion from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. There are no residential properties within that radius.

At residential property lines outside the radius, Merriweather would have to abide by a 72.5 decibel level, up from the current 65 decibel level.

The county's current noise ordinance requires the decibel level at surrounding residential properties to drop from a maximum of 65 during the day to 55 at 10 p.m.

The bill has received mixed reviews from residents over the past two months, with some arguing that Merriweather is already too loud and others saying the iconic Columbia venue needs to change to thrive.

Merriweather had asked the delegation to approve a bill that would prevent Howard County or any local government subsidiary from banning the electronic amplification of sound between certain hours at an outdoor concert venue with a capacity of more than 15,000 individuals. Merriweather, built in 1967, is the only such venue in the county.

Merriweather officials later revised their request by setting noise limits to 95 decibels within a quarter-miler of the pavilion and 72.5 decibels at residential property lines.

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