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Proposed noise, loitering ordinance discussion pulled from Funkstown council's agenda

Washington County sheriff requests move so prosecutors can review whether plans are enforceable

July 08, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN — Mayor Paul N. Crampton Jr. withdrew proposed noise and loitering ordinances from the town council’s agenda Monday night at the request of the Washington County sheriff, who wants prosecutors to review the proposals to see if they are enforceable.

“They can’t just create ordinances without running it by us to see whether it’s even enforceable or not,” Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said in a telephone interview after the Funkstown Town Council meeting. “They can pass ordinances all day long, but if they’re not enforceable, they’re just a waste of paper,” he said.

Mullendore said he learned about the proposed noise and loitering ordinances in the newspaper and contacted the mayor Monday afternoon.

About a dozen people were in the audience at the meeting, including at least two employees from Joker’s Bar & Grill. It was noise and loitering outside that bar that prompted the town attorney to be asked to draw up the proposed laws, the town clerk has said.

Bartender Brian Binkley read a letter, addressed to the mayor from Louie Thomas, president of the Washington County Restaurant and Beverage Association, into the record during the meeting.

Thomas wrote that the association was concerned about the proposed ordinances and the effects they could have on the town’s bars and restaurants.

Thomas wrote that a recent Maryland smoking law has “forced patrons outside to smoke, resulting in groups congregating in outside areas.”

“Small neighborhood bars are already experiencing a decline in business due to the economy and the smoking ban,” he wrote.

Two town residents also spoke about the proposed ordinance. One resident questioned how the proposed laws could be enforced, while the other commended the town for taking citizens’ complaints about the noise seriously.

Crampton said he hoped to hear back from the Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office in time to put the issue on the agenda for the town’s Aug. 12 meeting.

Binkley also made reference during the meeting to a permanent sign the bar put up.

On the outside of the Joker’s front door Monday night were two signs, one reading “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” and another handwritten warning that said “No Cuts, No Colors,” referring to gang colors and vests.

Binkley said many bars put up similar signs.

Mullendore said he became aware of the “No Cuts, No Colors” signs within the past month. Several people with local bars mentioned having problems with gang members wearing their colors entering establishments, and arguments ensuing when the gang members were asked to leave or were refused service, he said.

Crampton, reached by telephone after the town meeting, said the two signs were “a step in the right direction” and showed the bar’s willingness to straighten out the noise problems.

The gang sign could help limit the number of motorcyclists who patronize the bar, he said.

Some of the complaints at town meetings about noise outside Joker’s have been about constant revving of motorcycle engines.

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