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"Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing"
David 'Kip' Koontz

April 2, 2002

Noise, noise, everywhere noise. Recently Herzonner and the Board of Alderman (BOA) of The City of Frederick heard testimony from the public regarding their opinions on the proposed noise ordinance.

The Wednesday of the hearing my home phone answering machine and my office phone voicemail were full of messages from people asking me to call them about the meeting. They said they needed to talk to me "right away."

"It's important," they said.

Not arriving home until 20 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the meeting, I didn't have time to return the calls.

About five minutes before 7 P. M., my doorbell began ringing repeatedly. As I approached the door, a neighbor kept imploring me to hurry up.

She wanted us to go to the meeting together. She said she "wanted to see if Herzonner and the BOA would roll over on the neighbors of Xhale and on the residents of the East End (who would indeed be there to bring up their repeated complaints) like they did on our neighborhood regarding the Presbyterian Church addition."

Interesting question.

It seems that people have a variety of issues concerning noise in the city.

Some came to voice their concern about the thumping of car stereos that one hears throughout downtown 24/7.

Others came to voice their concern about the "bombs bursting in air" 18 times a season over Harry Grove Stadium.

Of course, some came to express their concern about the noise of the tractor pulls that emanate from the fair well after the 10 P.M. mandated stop time.

Others came to express their concern about the noise from the music and crowds at Xhale.

One interesting aspect of this ordinance is that it also applies to activity that "offends public decency." Question is, who defines "public decency?"

So far some of the actions of this batch of elected officials could make you question whether they would know right from wrong if it fell from the sky and smacked them on the head.

Do you expect the wolves to define the methods to defend the hen house?

Further, while this may seem like an excellent tool for the neighbors of Xhale to use to seek relief from the onslaught of used prophylactics and thongs (on thong night) that litter their neighborhood as that would seemingly be offensive to public decency, it isn't that simple.

Who is responsible for the offense, the club owners, for without them there would be no offense, or the actual partiers who leave the goodies behind?

Further, when will the offenses be investigated, immediately or within a designated "period of time" as the ordinance allows?

After all, the problem with noise is after the noise is over, it's over. The noisemaker can be gone, or pout and look as if they are sorry, while those who were violated by the noise will continue to feel violated.

How can one investigate acts that offend public decency if those who enforce the ordinance don't actually see the offense?

Additionally, the city only has one noise meter and few officers trained to use it.

Imagine if you will the night when the fireworks are booming at Harry Grove, the tractors are revving at the fair, dance music is thumping from Xhale and 10 downtown residents call to complain about cars zipping about with their stereos at full volume.

Where will the officer with the noise-o-meter go? Whose complaint will go unresolved?

Further, one has to question whether the city will actually enforce the ordinance against traditions such as the fair or fireworks at the All-American sport of baseball. Will they restrict the use of a business or a church or other entity, which may have powerful friends involved with them?

This leads us to all those phone calls.

Most of the folks called asking me to be at the meeting as a show of support. Aw shucks.

Additionally though, they wanted to know if I had any feeling as to how Herzonner and the BOA would vote on the noise ordinance in light of what they did to our neighborhood on the Presbyterian Church matter.

They asked me if I felt they would craft some sort of "deal" with the perpetual violators that would in effect give the noisemakers all they wanted in the end?

I stated that I didn't really know. These folks looked at me with troubled and anxious looks as I attempted, feebly, to reassure them.

It is simply too bad that a cloud of doubt and distrust has formed over City Hall in such a short period of time.


 

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