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Calls To "Turn Down The Music" May Soon Have More Teeth In Baltimore County

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks proposed countywide noise legislation. Credit: David Marks

The Baltimore County Council is considering expanding a noise ordinance countywide that currently targets neighborhoods near the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Towson University.

It will give a police officer, who might hesitate criminally charging someone for raising the roof, the authority to slap them with a civil citation for a noisy party.

Reisterstown resident Erin May, speaking for the legislation, told the council Tuesday she’s had to contact the police five times since May about throw downs at her next-door neighbor’s home.

May said, “It was so loud in my house, it was as if a live music venue was in my living room.”

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said the program in Towson has cut down on noise complaints.

Shellenberger asked the council, “If it works in Towson, why can’t it work in the entire county?”

Shellenberger said the key is that landlords also can be cited for what their tenants do.

“There have been a number of owners who’ve gotten warning letters, and then you don’t see the address again,” Shellenberger said. “That’s what the goal of the bill is.”

The first violation of the ordinance could mean a $500 fine. The cost escalates for subsequent violations. If a tenant gets a citation, the landlord is notified, then the landlord also can be cited if there is another offense. A judge also can order a repeat offender to perform community service.

Republican County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, first proposed the pilot program in 2016.

“The program has worked,” Marks said. “There has been a significant decrease in complaints and it is now time, I think, to extend this countywide.”

No members of the county council voiced opposition to the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.

The council is expected to vote on it July 6.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2