Anne Arundel County police officers now have the tools ? and a tough state law ? on their side when responding to noise complaints.
The Maryland Department of the Environment granted the county the authority to enforce the state noise ordinance and issue fines up to $10,000 to violators.
"This is the first time in state history that a local jurisdiction was given the authority to enforce state noise law," said County Executive John R. Leopold, who also acquired a noise meter for officers to use.
MDE is responsible for enforcing the noise law, but had no money or staff to do so, MDE Secretary Shari Wilson said.
"We encourage other local governments to seek the same power Anne Arundel did," Wilson said.
Six county officers are trained in using the $2,000 sound meter.
"Before this happened, it was frustrating to see a violation of state law, and you didn?t have the authority," said Cpl. Brian Smith, one of the officers who trained on the noise meter.
The state law is more restrictive than the county law and encompasses all-terrain vehicles, which are the bane of many county residents supporting tougher noise laws.Vovici Online Survey Software
"I?m very pleased that [Leopold] took a major step, a bold step, in solving the noise issue," said Melanie Gness, whose complaints of a neighbor?s noisy dirt bike track sparked proposed county noise legislation last month.
But not everyone agrees with Gness. County Councilman James Benoit, D-Crownsville, an opponent ofnoise control, called the state law "draconian."
A previous county bill was voted down because it put restrictions on ATVs and some commercial properties.
"I think it failed in the County Council last time because it was unrealistic," Benoit said. "This new law essentially makes many everyday activities a violation of law. Kids playing basketball is now a violation."
Current county law:
No device (typically musical devices such as radios) can emit noise 50 feet from the source. Police officers can issue citations up to $500.
» State law that will now be enforced:
No device, including ATVs, can emit noise past 75 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and 55 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Police officers can issue citations up to $10,000.