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Man fed up with 'boom-boom-boom'

June 24, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, PA.

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

A Waynesboro man who says he doesn't like to get involved has plunked himself in the middle of one of the hottest issues facing downtown Waynesboro ? loud radios in cars.

Douglas Delmont, 50, who lives in an apartment complex on Mount Airy Avenue, has formed the Noise Abatement Group to urge the Borough Council to pass a law banning booming car stereo systems. So far, Delmont is the only member of the group.

Delmont is modeling his effort after a noise-abatement ordinance in Shippensburg, Pa., that police there are enforcing.

The Shippensburg law says it's illegal to play a car stereo that can be heard more than 50 feet away.

Delmont, in a letter to the Borough Council and other local officials, said, "For years, Waynesboro residents have been assaulted by drivers with booming car sound systems. Now is the time to fight back! Before our town's quality of life is completely ruined, we must pass a noise ordinance."

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The letter urges residents to contact Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger and the council.

"We're all tired of hearing boom-boom-boom and obscene rap music from 5 blocks away," Delmont's letter said. "It doesn't have to be this way. Even cities like Rockville, Md., are quieter than Waynesboro."

Hamberger said the council is looking into a noise ordinance.

"The problem is enforceability," Hamberger said. "It may look fine when you read it, but you have to precisely define how loud is loud. It has to be quantifiable."

What is loud is not the same for everyone, he said.

Hamberger, who lives on Vista Court, a hillside development above Waynesboro, said at a recent council meeting that he hears booming car radios parked on Virginia Avenue below, even with his house windows closed.

"It shakes them," he said.

Shippensburg Police Chief Fred Scott said his department enforces the borough's noise ordinance against vehicle radios. "If I hear them before I see them, they get a ticket," Scott said of violators.

Magisterial District Judge Harold "Sonny" Bender in Shippensburg, said fines range from $50 to $300.

Violators are routinely fined in his court, he said. It's $50 for a first offense and $75 to $100 for a second offense, he said. "We seldom get any above that," he said.

Police usually don't bother drivers unless the noise can be heard within about 100 feet, Bender said.

He credits one Shippensburg police officer for many of the borough's vehicle noise violation arrests.

The officer is a volunteer on the local ambulance squad and spends time at the fire house when he's off duty. He has marked the road and when he hears a loud car radio he checks the distance then calls an on-duty officer to pull over the driver, Bender said.

Magisterial District Judge Larry G. Pentz in Waynesboro said he would enforce a "good law" if the borough passes one. If a law is good in one municipality in the state, it can be a good law in another, he said.

Mark Smith, 25, has been a Waynesboro resident for eight years. He drives a 1997 Honda Civic with $2,500 worth of audio equipment he installed himself.

He doesn't think much of any law that would prevent him from playing his radio loud. He said he has one of the loudest car radios in Waynesboro.

"It's like you buy and pay for the system then you can't use it," he said. "If you buy it, you should be able to use it.

"I think 50 feet is a little strict. You can hear a new (Ford) Mustang with a factory system 100 feet away."

There should be a place in the borough where he and his friends can park their cars and play their radios, he said.

"They even passed a loitering ordinance. You can't hang around anymore," he said.

One solution would be for older people in the community to try to "fit in with the newer people," Smith said.

The issue of loud car stereos and loud mufflers was a popular topic during the four spring survey meetings of Main Street Waynesboro Inc. and it has popped at Borough Council meetings.

Delmont said he will speak to members of Main Street Waynesboro Inc. next month.

A few residents have spoken up about vehicle radios at borough council meetings, but Delmont is the only one who has stepped forward forcefully on the issue.

"Right now, it's just me. I hope it grows," he said.

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