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Waynesboro officials sound off on noise ordinance

July 17, 2005|by Richard F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Waynesboro might become a little quieter if the Borough Council adopts a noise ordinance that would fine those who disturb the public peace with loud car radios.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger is drafting a proposed law fashioned after one on the books in Harrisburg, Pa.

It will be reviewed Monday night by members of three borough council committees - personnel, property and public safety, and downtown revitalization and finance.

The joint meeting, which is open to the public, will be at 7 p.m. in the downstairs conference room in Borough Hall. Other subjects will be discussed.

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It is possible that the committee members could accept Hamberger's proposal and recommend it to the full council for a vote as soon as Wednesday, Hamberger said.

The council has been receiving complaints about noise in the downtown area.

Hamberger said he modeled his ordinance after one in Harrisburg after speaking with city officials there.

"They tell me it's very successful," Hamberger said. "If it holds up in a big city like Harrisburg, it ought to hold up in a small town like Waynesboro."

The law is aimed at the boom-box type sounds from passing vehicles that are so loud they rattle windows, Hamberger has said.

"It's a people problem," he said. "They've got the stuff up too loud."

Residents also have complained to the council about loud mufflers on vehicles.

"That's an equipment problem," Hamberger said.

The borough would have to adopt a separate ordinance based on the state code. It would be more complicated than a noise ordinance to control loud car stereos and would involve equipment such as certified decibel meters, he said.

"Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. They're a major irritant. Then we'll look at the other stuff," Hamberger said.

Harrisburg's noise ordinance, along with a similar one that police and court officials said works well in Shippensburg, Pa., is based on distance.

If a police officer can hear a vehicle's stereo within 50 feet, he can make an arrest, Hamberger said.

"I spoke with the officer in charge of enforcing the law in Harrisburg and he said it has been very successful," he said.

Hamberger said he also spoke with the police chief in Shippensburg.

One Waynesboro resident, Douglas Delmont, 50, of Mount Airy Avenue, sent a letter to the council in June asking the members to ban booming car stereos.

Delmont's letter said in part: "For years, Waynesboro residents have been assaulted by drivers with booming car sound systems. Now is the time to fight back! We're all tired of hearing boom-boom-boom ... from five blocks away, It doesn't have to be this way. Even cities like Rockville, Md., are quieter than Waynesboro."

"It's a matter of respect," said Ryan Bryan, owner of Russell's Car Stereo Customizing at 10772 Buchanan Trail East.

"The noise affects me, too. I don't like it," Bryan said as he and two employees were installing a stereo system of the type in question in Hamberger's draft in a customer's pickup truck.

"It comes down to respect. That's the real issue," he said.

Bryan said there are sanctioned sound shows and judging events that allow owners to play their vehicle stereos.

He said he supports noise ordinances.

"Most places have some sort of ordinance," Bryan said. "I have no problem with them. They are not a bad thing. I don't think one in Waynesboro would hurt my business. Not all my customers live in Waynesboro."

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