If you play your stereo too loudly, or operate garden equipment so the neighbors can hear it, you could face fines as high as $500 under an anti-noise ordinance the County Council is considering.
But Councilman Carl G. Holland, the Pasadena Republican who is sponsoring the bill to ban music or noise that can be heard from 50 feet away in a residential area, insisted he is not trying to prevent anyone from mowing his lawn.
"Let's face facts, a police officer is not going to cite a person for cutting his grass," he said. "This has to be a common sense thing."
The County Council has scheduled testimony at a public hearing on the bill at 7:30 p.m. today in the council chambers in Annapolis.
Under the bill, modeled on an Annapolis ordinance, violators could be fined $50 for a first offense. Fines would rise by $50 for each subsequent offense and could skyrocket to $500 after the fourth citation.
Mr. Holland said he has discussed concerns about enforcing the law with the county police. Officers are to exercise their discretion before issuing citations. At first, only the most egregious violators would be fined, he said.
"They just want to try and alleviate the problem," Mr. Holland said. "That's what this bill is about, to stop the noise out there. Not to have police out there writing tickets."
In most cases, a police officer will tell the person to turn the music down, he said.
"There are going to be a lot of warnings given," Mr. Holland said "An officer can issue a citation on the spot if he feels they're ignoring him."
At an earlier public hearing on the bill, some argued that 50 feet was too short a distance. "Fifty feet is arbitrary," Mr. Holland said last week. "It's going to be a judgment call by the police officer when he's answering a call."
He dismissed concerns that the law might be used for petty disturbances.
His bill provides exceptions for government functions; certain service companies such as utilities and trash collectors; those with valid permits for an activity; the activities of charities, schools, or other nonprofit civic or community organizations; and farming activities.