Hearing held on Berkeley noise ordinance

September 07, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Only five Berkeley County residents offered their views Thursday night on a proposed noise ordinance, and three of them aired concerns related to the Tomahawk, W.Va., area motocross track exempted by the proposed rules.

"My deaf mother can even hear it," said Alice Zickafoose, who along with her husband, Jack Zickafoose, objected to the exemption in the ordinance for the facility. "I'm sick of it."

The ordinance for residential areas proposes that any person who persists in disturbing the peace and quiet of others in residential housing after being requested to desist by a law enforcement officer is guilty of causing and maintaining a nuisance, a misdemeanor.

Residential housing includes nursing homes, hospitals, dormitories, motels and traditional one- and two-bedroom houses, according to the ordinance.

The minimum fine for a first-offense citation would be $250, and would at least be doubled for a second-offense conviction. The maximum penalty for a second offense is $1,000.


Berkeley County Commission President Steven C. Teufel said officials had fielded a number of complaints about the track in the last three or four years, but have little power to regulate the motocross facility.

"There's nothing we can do, nothing we can do at all," Teufel said. The comments aired in the public hearing will be reviewed, and a vote on the ordinance could take place in the next couple of weeks, Teufel said.

Speaking on behalf of the motocross track, Andy DiMagno said only two people came to speak against the facility. He invited the commissioners to visit the site to see the operation.

DiMagno also wanted language in the ordinance specifying that existing commercial facilities in operation were grandfathered or exempt.

"I don't see that in there," DiMagno said.

Lynden Heavner of Ridgeway, W.Va., said he previously talked with county leaders a few years ago about the possibility of a similar track coming to his southern Berkeley County community, and wondered if the motocross bikes could be equipped with sound-deafening mufflers.

"Why do they have to be so loud?" Heavner asked.

Aside from the motocross track, Chuck Ull of southern Berkeley County praised county leaders for including language in the ordinance that applies to facilities licensed by the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission.

Ull didn't name the establishment, but questioned how such a business could be licensed by the state to operate on property deeded "residential only."

Ull said he obtained 34 signatures in a petition drive on short notice concerning the problem, and was optimistic the ordinance would eliminate some of his and other neighbors' concerns with noise from the bar.

"I support this as written," Ull said.

Commissioner Ronald K. Collins said he was contacted by Ull about The Pit Stop off W.Va. 51, about one mile east of U.S. 11.

Teufel and Collins both agreed that legal action could be an option for the neighbors concerned about the business.

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