T&E Item 1
March 28, 2011
Worksession 2
MEMORANDUM
TO:
FROM:
'*
Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee
Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
SUBJECT:
Worksession 2:
Bil16-10, Noise Control
Arts and Entertainment Activities
Bill 6-10, Noise Control - Arts and Entertainment Activities, sponsored by
Councilmember EIrich and then-Council President Floreen, was introduced on March 2,2010. A
public hearing was held on March 23, at which the only speakers were representatives of
Strathmore Hall Foundation and the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (see testimony,
©12-15). The first Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee
worksession was held on November 22, at which the Committee recommended enactment of this
Bill with comprehensive amendments, summarized and discussed below. The Bill with
Committee amendments had been scheduled for Council action on November 30, but was
dropped from the agenda to allow Councilmembers to resolve outstanding issues.
Original Bill
As introduced, Bill 6-10 would set different noise level standards for
certain seasonal arts and entertainment activities.
It
would also exempt noise levels created by
those seasonal arts and entertainment activities, up to a higher maximum level, from being
treated as a noise disturbance. In addition, a potential homebuyer would be notified about
certain seasonal arts and entertainment activities near those areas.
As introduced, this Bill would allow a performing arts facility (such as, but not limited to,
Strathmore Hall) which conducts at least 5 outdoor arts and entertainment activities (such as
concerts or films) each year to, at its option, annually file a noise mitigation plan with the
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DEP would review but would not approve the
plan. Having filed the plan, the facility would then be subject to a higher maximum noise level
from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during April through October - 75 dBA versus the normal 65 (daytime)
or 55 (nighttime) levels that apply to residential areas.! If an arts facility conducts fewer than 5
outdoor events, under the current law
2
it can apply for an event-by-event waiver, which is good
for up to 30 days, and would not have to file a noise mitigation plan.
[For a description of the various decibel levels, see ©19.
2See County Code §3IB-II(a).
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Urban district redraft On November 17, attorneys William Kominers and Robert
Brewer, on behalf respectively of the Bethesda and Silver Spring urban districts and Chambers
of Commerce and the Strathmore Hall Foundation, submitted a redraft to Bill 6-10's sponsors.
This redraft:
• limited the scope of the seasonal activities provision to any "qualifying performing
arts facility" that is County-owned or -operated and designated by a Council
resolution after a public hearing, and deleted the "more than 5 performances"
requirement;
• inserted a new provision, applying only to the urban districts (currently Bethesda,
Silver Spring, and Wheaton), which would essentially waive applicable noise limits
for any "permissible performance location" recommended by the urban district
advisory or corporation board and designated by the County Executive; and
• deleted the home buyer notice requirement.
The Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee reviewed this
redraft at its worksession on November 22 and recommended enactment with further
amendments, described below.
Issues/2010 Committee amendments
1) Should this increase in the applicable noise limits at specific performing arts
facilities be allowed?
The first section of this Bill (from ©3, line 52 to ©5, line 97) applies only to specific
County-owned or -operated performing arts facilities designated by the County Executive (see
©3, lines 33-42). (The Bill had originally required designation by Council resolution after a
public hearing.) This provision is intended mainly to cover Strathmore Hall, but
it
could also
apply to Black Rock Center for the Arts and other facilities. To qualify, the facility management
must file and annually update a noise mitigation plan.
The management of Strathmore Hall Foundation (see testimony, ©12-13) in particular is
concerned that occupants of the new housing development (Symphony Park at Strathmore) being
built nearby would file a noise complaint during any outdoor performance event (concert or film)
which exceeds the relatively low 55 dBA nighttime noise limits. In their view, the ability to
apply for an event or 30-day waiver, which the current law allows, is not sufficient because they
need to schedule outdoor events and sign performers well in advance. They also argue that the
upper noise limit in this Bill, 75 dBA, is not excessive and would not offend nearby residents.
The description of decibel levels on ©19, furnished by Strathmore Hall Foundation, compares 75
dBA to an "average radio or vacuum cleaner", or, we would say, loud enough to notice. Under
the County noise law, these measurements are taken at the property line, not at the noise source.
While DEP, the County's noise control enforcement agency, has received few complaints
about concerts or other seasonal outdoor entertainment activities, that doesn't necessarily mean
that the public does not object to them. DEP has received few if any complaints about outdoor
events at Strathmore recently, but in 2006 residents of nearby neighborhoods vociferously
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objected to noise from several outdoor movies. Strathmore management since revised its
outdoor operations to reduce the resulting noise levels.
The County Noise Control Advisory Board (see memo, ©16-17) did not support this Bill
and instead proposed that Strathmore Hall Foundation use the long-term (up to 3 years) noise
waiver process allowed under the current law
3.
This process includes public notice and a
hearing. In Council staffs view, a 3-year waiver period is too long for these facilities.
Committee recommendation: Accept the concept of relaxing the applicable noise limits
during certain hours and times of year at designated qualifying performing arts facility sites.
2)
If
a relaxed noise level standard is allowed, should DEP be required to approve a
noise mitigation plan?
As introduced, Bill 6-10 only requires the applicant to submit a noise mitigation plan,
which DEP would review but not approve or reject. The 3-year waiver process which the Noise
Control Advisory Board prefers does not expressly require the applicant to submit a noise
mitigation plan, although DEP could require one as a condition of approving any waiver.
Council staff had recommended that DEP be directed to report to the Council and public
on the adequacy and effectiveness of each noise mitigation plan before the Executive designates
a site, and to advise each facility operator at any time if the plan it submitted does not take full
advantage of reasonably available noise control technology.
Committee recommendation: do not require DEP to evaluate the adequacy and
effectiveness of each noise mitigation plan before the Executive designates a site, but direct DEP
to annually advise the Council and Executive whether the prescribed noise levels remain
appropriate for each site and on the extent of compliance with them (see ©5, lines 93-97).
3)
Should a blanket waiver of the applicable noise limits in the urban districts be
allowed?
The new section of the Kominers-Brewer redraft (from ©5, line 98 to ©7, line 160)
applies to the urban districts (currently Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Wheaton). The redraft
would effectively waive applicable noise limits for any "permissible performance location"
nominated by the urban district advisory or corporation board and designated by the County
Executive without a public hearing (see ©3, lines 28-31).4 To qualify, the location's
management must file and annually update a noise information report, which is less rigorous
than the noise information plan required for a County-operated site.
Urban district representatives argued that downtown residents and visitors expect more
noise and often seek
it
out, and realize that higher decibel levels from music or theater
performances are part of the downtown "scene". DEP staff say that few if any noise complaints
3See County Code §31 B·l1 (b).
4Because this proposal only applies to outdoor arts and entertainment activities, it would not affect the Fillmore in
Silver Spring or any other indoor entertainment venue.
3
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have been received for downtown entertainment activities. But for another view, see the letter
from a County resident on
©
18 protesting Silver Spring outdoor concerts.
The operating theory behind this provision is essentially that the urban district
managements will not want to offend their residents and customers, and thus will not accept
noise levels beyond what is generally acceptable in a downtown area. While this statement may
be generally valid, the draft relies on a rather open-ended process that includes no defined role
for either DEP's noise enforcement staff or the public. It also waives all current County noise
limits and imposes no upper noise limit at all, so if an overly enthusiastic urban district allows an
overly enthusiastic concert promoter or bar to book the loudest rock band available and let them
play through the night, the nearby residents would have no statutory recourse (although it would
not preclude any affected person from filing a nuisance action in court).
Council staff recommended that the Committee sever this provision from the rest of Bill
6-10 and introduce it as a separate Bill with its own public hearing. Because current urban
district activities have generated few if any noise complaints, in our view this provision appeared
to be a solution in search of a problem, which needs more public exposure before receiving
serious Council consideration.
Committee recommendation:
accept the concept of shifting responsibility for noise
levels at certain outdoor performance sites in urban districts to the urban district after the
Executive designates the site as a permissible performance location. Tighten up this authority by
requiring 30 days' advance public notice before a site is nominated or a performance approved,
clarifying that the Executive can revoke a site designation at any time, and require the urban
district board to report annually on its experience with this authority and to forward each noise
complaint it receives to DEP.
4) What if any disclosure should residents near a performing arts facility receive?
Bill 6-10 requires the seller of any residential property within 300 yards of a covered
performing arts facility to notify any buyer that seasonal arts and entertainment activities at the
facility would be subject to special noise limits (see ©8, lines 162-183). At the hearing the
Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) objected to this added disclosure
requirement, partly because
it
would add to many other required notices recently inserted in
County law (see GCAAR testimony, ©14-15).
This kind of pre-sale notice has another flaw: it's not clear when it would be triggered
because a performing arts facility could begin an outdoor concert program at any time, and home
sellers would not necessarily know when the facility has applied for the special noise standards
under this Bill.
As an alternative form of notice among others, GCAAR suggested directing the
performing arts facility to notify surrounding homeowners. However, this would not reach
prospective homebuyers before they buy in that area. GCAAR also suggested that new
homebuyers in the Strathmore Hall area be given a notice tailored to that facility, or some
4
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disclosure be required to be included in homeowners' association and condominium documents
for developments near a performing arts facility.
The urban district redraft deleted this notice provision altogether because the Strathmore
Hall Foundation is now satisfied that it is not needed. Council staff concurred because, as
drafted, this provision raised too many operational issues to be feasibly enforced.
Committee recommendation:
delete the required notice from the Bill.
2011 IssueslProposed Amendments
5) Should the urban districts amendment be deleted from this Bill and considered
separately?
On March 21 the County Executive submitted a memo (see ©20-21) recommending that
Bill 6-10 proceed to enactment without the urban districts provision, which would be addressed
in a new Bill that the Executive expects to send to the Council "within the next several weeks".
Council staff redrafted this Bill to reflect the Executive's recommendations (see ©22-29).
Because the urban districts amendment was never the subject of a public hearing,
S
raises
a number of thorny policy and operational issues, and has been strongly criticized by some urban
district residents, Council staff concurs that this element of Bill 6-10 should be deleted and
considered on its own.
Council staff recommendation:
amend Bill 6-10 as shown on ©22-29,
except for the proposed deletions on ©24, lines 38-42 (which are discussed in the next issue).
6) How should qualifying performing arts facilities be designated?
In his latest memo (see ©20), the Executive also recommended that Bil16-1O be amended
by deleting the requirement on ©24, lines 38-42, that the Executive designate each qualifying
outdoor performing arts facility in an Executive Order published in the County Register, and the
Executive's authority to revoke any such designation. Executive staff argue that the list of such
facilities is short and clear, and that this provision is flawed because it does not contain any
standards for the Executive to follow in designating them or revoking that designation.
In email messages with Council staff, Executive staff indicated that, along with the
outdoor areas at Strathmore Hall and Black Rock Center for the Arts, which have been publicly
discussed in connection with this Bill, other County-owned facilities where the relaxed noise
limits allowed by this Bill could apply include Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring and "any County
facility made available through the Office of Community Use of Public Facilities at which an
arts and entertainment activity takes place, any public right-of-way which is used for an arts and
entertainment activity, and any County owned surface parking lots used for arts and
entertainment activities (e.g., Wheaton)". In addition, Glen Echo Park, as a County-operated
facility, would also qualify.
5
Under
applicable state and County laws, no further hearing was required before this amendment was recommended
since it fell within the original title of this Bill, which included "generally amend the County noise control law".
5
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Given the breadth of these possibilities and the non-discretionary nature of the process if
the Executive's amendment is adopted, Council staff recommends that some individual site
approval mechanism be retained. Perhaps more important, some authority and process to revoke
the applicability of the relaxed noise limits should be built into the law to allow the County to
respond quickly, without having to amend the underlying law, to unexpected community impacts
or abuses of the limits.
Council staff recommendation:
retain the designation and revocation
requirement on ©24, lines 38-42.
7) Should the standards and process for qualifying performing arts facilities be
tightened up in response to community concerns?
In response to comments the Council received recently from Strathmore-area residents
(see ©30-48)6, if this Bill moves forward
Council staff recommends
that the Committee
consider some or all of the following modifications to the qualifying performing arts facility
noise limits provision in order to better balance the equities between facility operators and
neighborhood residents:
Operations
• sunset
this provision in 2 years, so that the Council, Executive, and public can assess
how well it worked and what effects
it
had on neighboring residents;
• reduce the time of year
the relaxed noise limits can apply from April I-October 31,
as currently proposed (see ©25, lines 75-76), to June IS-August 31, so that it falls
outside the school year;
• alternatively, allow relaxed noise limits
only on weekends
during April through
October, or during the "shoulder months" (April, May, September, and October);
• apply the higher noise limits only to
events open to the public,
since many of the
neighborhood complaints appear to involve noise from private parties held on
Strathmore's terrace (the Bill now uses a broader term, "readily accessible to the
public", on ©23, line 7, in its definition of "arts and entertainment activity");
Oversight and monitoring
• require the operator of each facility to
post its noise mitigation plan
on its website
and notify neighborhood residents who put their names on a list that the plan has been
filed;
• require the operator of each facility to show that
it
has
consulted with neighborhood
residents
before it files a noise mitigation plan;
• authorize DEP to
approve or reject
each noise mitigation plan, require an approved
plan before the higher noise limits apply, and direct DEP to consider public
comments and the effect on the community generally before approving a plan;
• allow DEP to charge an
application fee
(set by Method 2 regulation) for each noise
mitigation plan filed, and set aside those funds for DEP's monitoring of
performances, including the annual report required in ©26, lines 93-97;
6
Strathmore Hall Foundation was asked to respond to the March 3 email on ©42-45 from Edward Lijewski and
replied that they would do so, but Council staff had not received a response when this packet went to print.
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alternatively, require the operator of each facility with higher noise limits to
retain a
qualified noise monitor
to report on compliance \vith the applicable noise levels at
its events.
Circle
#
This packet contains:
1
Bill 6-10 with 2010 Committee amendments
9
Legislative Request Report
10
Fiscal Impact Statement.
12
Hearing testimony
16
Memo from Noise Control Advisory Board
18
Letter re concert noise in downtown Silver Spring
19
Decibel scale
20
County Executive memo (March 21,2010)
22
Bill 6-10 Council staff redraft (Executive amendments)
30
Comments from Strathmore area residents
Bethesda
magazine article about Symphony Park development 49
Symphony Park site plan
F:\LAW\BILLS\1 006 Noise - Performing
Arts
Facility\T&E Memo 3-28-11 ,Doc
7
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Bill No.
6-10
Concerning: Noise Control - Arts and
Entertainment Activities
Revised: 11-24-10
Draft No. 4
Introduced: March 2, 2010
Expires:
September 2, 2011
Enacted: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Executive: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Effective:
_--:-~
_ _ _ _ _ __
Sunset Date: _N;...:.o=n.:..::e'---_ _ _ _ __
Ch. _ _ Laws of Mont Co. _ __
I
COUNTY COUNCIL
FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
By: Councilmember EIrich and Council President Floreen
AN
ACT to:
set different noise level standards for certain arts and entertainment activities;
exempt certain noise levels created by certain arts and entertainment activities from
being treated as a noise disturbance; and
(3)
[[require certain notices to be given to certain potential homebuyers near certain arts
and entertainment activities; and]]
[[(4)]]
generally amend the County noise control law.
By amending
Montgomery County Code
Chapter 31B, Noise Control
Sections 31B-2 and 31B-5
By adding
Chapter 31B, Noise Control
Section 31 B-6A and 31 B-6B
[[Chapter 40, Real Property
Section 40-12DJ]
(1)
(2)
Boldface
Underlining
[Single boldface brackets]
Double underlining
[[Double boldface bracketsD
* * *
Heading or defined term.
Added to existing law by original bill.
Deletedfrom existing law by original bill.
Added by amendment,
Deletedfrom existing law or the bill by amendment.
Existing law unaffected by bill.
The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland approves the following Act.'
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1
2
Sec.
1.
Sections 31B-2 and 31B-5 are amended, and [[Section]] Sections
31B-6A [[is]] and 31B-6B are added, as follows:
31B-2.
Definitions.
3
[(a)]
[(b)]
[(e)]
[(d)]
[(e)]
[(f)]
[(g)]
[(i)]
[U)]
[(k)]
[(1)]
[em)]
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25
26
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[(0)]
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reP)]
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[en)]
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28
29
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31
32
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38
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42
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Permissible Performance Location
means a defined area in an urban district
which is:
ill
(2)
used for an outdoor
arts and entertainment activity;
and
nominated and designated as provided in Section 31B-6B.
[(q)]
*
*
*
~
[[Performing]] Qualifying performing arts facility
means
building,
outdoor seasonal, temporary, or permanent stage, or other clearly defined area or
space, which is [[located at
~
venue that primarily presents live theatrical, musical, or
dance
performances]]~
ill
(2)
used for an
arts and entertainment activity:
owned or operated by the County; and
so designated by the County Executive in an Executive Order published
in the County Register. The Executive may revoke a designation at any
time by publishing an Executive Order revoking the designation in the
County Register.
ill
[(r)]
[(s)]
[(t)]
31B-5.
*
*
*
*
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*
*
*
*
46
47
48
Noise level and noise disturbance violations.
Maximum allowable noise levels.
(1)
Except as otherwise provided in Section 31 B-6(a).2C 31 B-6A, 31 B­
~
(a)
49
50
51
52
53
and 31 B-8, a person must not cause
Of
permit noise levels
that exceed the following levels:
*
31B-6A.
*
*
Seasonal noise level standard for gualifying arts and entertainment
activities.
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54
55
56
57
58
59
ill
If [[more than
~
performances oft] an outdoor
arts and entertainment
activity
will be conducted at
f!
Qualifying
performing arts facility,
the
[[owner or manager]] operator of the
facility
may file
f!
noise
mitigation plan,
prepared by an acoustical engineer or consultant, with
the Department. The
plan
must include:
60
61
ill
ill
ill
performance requirements;
the
and
information about the impact of the proposed
arts and
~
of noise mitigation measures that the facility will use;
62
63
entertainment activity
and the planned noise mitigation
measures on the performers, the audience, and the occupants of
[[nearby]] properties within 1000 feet of the perimeter of the
64
65
66
facilitv.
The Department must make each
plan
filed with
67
68
69
70
71
it
available to the
public and send
f!
£QPY
to the Noise Control Advisory Board.
(Q)
If the [[owner or manager]] operator of
f!
Qualifying performing arts
facility
submits
f!
completed
noise-mitigation plan
to the Department
and conducts
[[ill
least
5]]
all outdoor
arts and entertainment
72
73
activities
each year in accordance with that
plan,
each outdoor
arts and
entertainment activity
held at the
facility
must not exceed the
following noise decibel limits:
74
75
ill
ill
ill
from
11
a.m.
to
11
p.m.
during April
1
through October 31,
75
76
77
dBA, as measured on the receiving property; and
at all other times, the maximum allowable noise level set in
Section 3IB-5.
A [[person]]
Qualifying performing arts facility
which has filed a
78
79
80
noise mitigation plan
and otherwise complied with this Section must
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81
82
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84
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86
not cause or permit nOIse levels from an outdoor
arts and
entertainment activity
[[which is subject to this Section]] to exceed the
standards in subsection
(Q1
@
Any outdoor
arts and entertainment activity
[[subject to)] con,ducted
at a
qualifying performing arts facility
which has filed a
noise
mitigation plan
and otherwise complied with this Section [[which
87
88
89
meets the standards in subsection
noise disturbance.
®)]
must not be cited as causing
~
liU
For
~
qualifying performing arts facility
to remain in compliance with
this Section, its [[owner or manager]] operator must update its filed
noise mitigation plan
as necessary to reflect significant changes in
90
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programming and noise control technology, and must file an updated
plan
with the Department not later than March
l2.
each year. The
Department must annually advise the Executive and Council. and the
operator of each
qualifying performing arts facility.
whether the noise
levels specified in this Section remain appropriate for that
facility
and
the extent of compliance with those levels.
31B-6B.
Noise review procedure for outdoor arts and entertainment
activities in urban districts.
tru
A defined area located in an urban district may qualify as a
permissible
performance location
ifthe area is:
ill
nominat~d
. . for
that pumose by the applicable urban district
advisorv committee or urban district comoration board of
directors after the committee or board has:
(8J
given at least 30 days' public notice on the website of the
applicable County regional services center that it is
considering a nomination ofa specific area; and
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108
109
all
reviewed and approved the nomination at a regularly
scheduled monthly meeting; and
110
111
112
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114
ru
after it is
sonominat~d,
designated by the County Executive as a
permissible performance location
in an Executive Order
published in the County Register. The Executive may revroke a
designation at any time by publishing an Executive Order
revoking the designation in the County Register.
115
116
117
118
au
If an outdoor
arts and entertainment activity
will be conducted in an
urban district. the owner or operator of the designated
permissible
performance location
where the
activity
will be conducted must first
file a noise information report with . the applicable urban district
advisory committee or corporation board of directors.
information report must:
Each noise
119
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124
125
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128
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132
133
ill
describe each
arts and entertainment activity
to be conducted
at that
location:
ru
ill
ill
ill
W
list each performance date and time;
specify who will sponsor each
activity;
describe the target audience for each performance; and
identify the
permissible performance location
for each
activity.
The trrban district committee or board must review each noise
information report at a regularly scheduled monthly meeting and advise
the owner or operator whether each proposed outdoor performance is
consistent with the goals and objectives. vision,. and mission strategy of
the district. The committee or board must first give at least 30 days'
public notice on the website of the applicable County regional services
cent~r
that
it
will review a noise information report at a specific
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134
135
136
meeting. This review may occur in conjunction with the nomination of
a
permissible performance location
under subsection (a).
(Q)
If the owner or operator of each
permissible performance location
submits a noise information report and receives the advice of the
applicable urban district advisory committee or comoration board. each
outdoor
arts and entertainment activity
conducted at the
location
as
specified in the report must be treated as complying with the noise
limits in Section 31B-5 and must not be cited as causmg a nOIse
disturbance.
137
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141
142
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146
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150
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152
153
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156
Lru
To remain in compliance with this Section. the owner or operator of
each
permissible performance location
must update its noise
information report as necessary to reflect any significant changes in the
type of planned
arts and entertainment activities
and any additional
arts and entertainment activity
not previously described in the report.
An
updated noise information report may be filtXi at any time. but
an
updated report must be filed not later than March 15 of each year before
any outdoor
arts and entertainment activity
may be conducted at that
permissible performance location
during that year.
ill
In its annual report filed under Section 68A-12(dt each urban district
must list each
permissible performance location
that the district
nominated during that year and each noise information report that it
reviewed' The report also must list the types and number of noise
m
complaints about
outdoor arts and entertainment activities
in the
district that the district received during that year and. discuss the
district' s
respon~e.
157
158
159
160
if any. to those complaints.
The district must
forward a copy of each written noise complaint that it receives to the
Department.
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161
162
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[[Sec. 2.
Section 40-12D is added as follows:]]
[[40-12D.
Disclosure
of noise
from certain arts and entertainment activities.
!.ill
If
any residential real property is located within 300 yards of
f!
performing arts facility
where
.2.
or more outdoor
arts and
entertainment activities
which are subject to special noise level
standards under Section 31B-6A have been conducted during the
previous 12 months or are scheduled to be conducted in the next 12
months, any seller of that property must disclose to each prospective
buyer, before the buyer
§.iw
f!
contract to buy the property, that certain
seasonal outdoor
arts and entertainment activities
conducted at that
facility
are subject to special noise level standards which may exceed
otherwise applicable noise limits.
{hl
A prospective buyer must indicate,
Qy
signing an addendum to the
contract or
f!
separate section of the contract printed in boldface
f!
clearly demarcated box, that:
~
in
ill
ill
the seller has provided the information required
Qy
subsection
(f!);.
and
the buyer understands that:
(A)
nearby property may be
f!
source of periodic noise from
seasonal outdoor
arts and entertainment activities;
and
@
the buyer may obtain more information about noise limits
on these activities from the County Department of
Environmental Protection.]]
Approved:
185
186
Nancy Floreen, President, County Council
Date
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LEGISLATIVE REQUEST REPORT
Bill 6-10
Noise Control
-
Arts and Entertainment Activities
DESCRIPTION:
Sets higher noise level standards during specific hours and seasons
for certain arts and entertainment activities. Exempts certain noise
levels created by certain arts and entertainment activities from being
treated as a noise disturbance. Requires potential homebuyers near
covered outdoor performance areas to be notified about potential
noise from arts and entertainment activities at those areas.
Certain outdoor performing arts activities with substantial community
support may violate current evening noise standards.
To allow reasonable, enforceable standards to apply to seasonal
outdoor performances, and to notify potential neighbors that outdoor
performances with different noise standards may be held nearby.
Department of Environmental Protection
To be requested.
To be requested.
To be requested.
To be researched.
Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney, 240-777-7905
To be researched.
PROBLEM:
GOALS AND
OBJECTIVES:
COORDINATION:
FISCAL IMPACT:
ECONOMIC
IMPACT:
EVALUATION:
EXPERIENCE
ELSEWHERE:
SOURCE OF
INFORMATION:
APPLICATION
WITHIN
MUNICIPALITIES:
PENALTIES:
Class A
F:\LAW\BILLS\\ 006 Noise - Performing Arts Facility\Legislative Request Report.Doc
(j)
f:\law\bills\1006 noise - performing arts facility\legislative request report.de
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OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
Isiah Leggett
County Executive
Joseph
F.
Beach
Director
MEMORANDUM
March 17,2010
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
Nancy Floreen,
~:~
County C01DlCil
Joseph F.
Beach,~or
Council Bill 6-10, Noise Control-
Arts
and Entertainment Activities
The purpose ofthis memorandum is to transmit a fiscal and economic impact statement to
the
Counc~l
on the subject legislation.
LEGISLATION SUMMARY
This bill will establish a "seasonal noise level standard" that exceeds otherwise applicable
noise standards for qualifying outdoor
arts
and entertainment activities that consist of more than five
performances at a performing
arts
facility. To qualifY for the seasonal noise level standard, the owner of
the facility must file a noise mitigation plan, prepared by an acoustical engineer or consultant, with the
Department ofEnvironmental Protection. The plan must specifY. among other things, the types of noise
mitigation measures that the facility will employ and the impact of the proposed
arts
and entertainment
activity and of the noise mitigation measures on the performers, the audience, and nearby properties. The
Department ofEnviromnental Protection must make the plan available
to
the public and send a copy to
the Noise Control Advisory Board.
In addition, potential buyers ofresidential real property located within 300 yards of a
performing
arts
facility subject
to
the seasonal noise level standard must
be
notified by the seller that
there may be periodic noise from nearby seasonal outdoor
arts
and entertainment activities that may
exceed otherwise applicable noise limits.
FISCAL AND ECONOMIC SUMMARY
This legislation does not appear to have a fiscal impact on the County. although the exact
scope ofthe facilities affected is still to be determined. The noise mitigation plan submitted by the owner
of a performing
arts
facility will not require processing or approval by the Department of Environmental
Protection, except for making
it
available to the public and to the Noise Advisory Board. However, it is
uncertain
at
this
time whether the legislation will affect County-sponsored seasonal outdoor activities,
either by restricting them or by requiring the County to pay for the preparation and implementation of a
noise· mitigation plan.
Office of the Director
101 Monroe Street, 14th Floor • Rockville, Maryland 20850 • 240-777-2800
www.montgomerycountymd.goy
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Nancy Floreen, President, County Council
March 17,2010
Page 2
The Department ofFinance has determined that
this
bill will not have
an
overall economic
impact. However, it is unclear what effect,
if
any, the notification requirements contained in the proposed
bill may have on sellers of property
in
the vicinity of performing arts facilities, or on the real estate
industry.
The following contributed
to
and concurred with this analysis:
Stan
Edwards, Department
ofEnvironmental Protection; Mike Coveyou. Department ofFinance; and John Greiner, Office of
Management and Budget.
JFB:jg
c: Kathleen Boucher, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
Dee Gonzalez, Offices ofthe County Executive
Bob Hoyt, Director, Department of Environmental Protection
Stan Edwards, Department of Environmental Protection
Mike Coveyou, Department of Finance
John Greiner, Office of Management and Budget
John Cuff, Office of Management and Budget
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Remarks from Eliot Pfanstiehl, President
&
CEO
Strathmore Hall Foundation, mc.
March 23, 2010
Re: Bill No. 6-10
Noise Control - Arts and Entertainment Activities
Good Evening: Councll President Floreen and Members of the County Council:
My name is Eliot Pfanstiehl, President and CEO of Strathmore Hall Foundation. Strathmore is a
performing arts center that offers both indoor and outdoor concerts and performances, art
exhibitions, film and other outdoor festivals, and various educational services for the benefit of
the public. Strathmore is one of the performing arts centers that will benefit from the proposed
Noise Ordinance amendments.
For the past 24 years, Strathmore has presented hundreds of concerts, art exhibitions, community
festivals, and outdoor movies while welcoming thousands of artists and several million citizens
to the 11 acres campus. Strathmore has become synonymous for the cultural quality of life for
the residents of Montgomery County, in part due to the free outdoor events offered every year on
the lawn and in the Gudelsky Gazebo.
, During the last 3 years, Strathmore has been working with two developers on the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) property developing "Symphony Park", a 112­
unit condominium project, which borders the Strathmore campus to the north. With the
proposed change in the use of the site from office to residential use, and coupled with the close
proximity of the proposed residences to the Strathmore campus, this could compromise the
continuance of all outdoor activities at Strathmore, unless certain changes are made to the
County's current noise regulations.
During the summer of 2007, the County Department of Environmental Protection monitored
sound levels from our outdoor concerts and the NIH Film Festival. Virtually all the events
violated the County's nighttime residential noise standard of 55 dBA maximum at the nearest
proposed property line.
We believe this proposed amendment is important for addressing inherent conflicts between the
new neighbors at Symphony Park, the current Noise Ordinance and the cultural events desired by
County residents, and note that such an amendment would further ensure future compliance of
Strathmore's outdoor events with the Noise Ordinance.
(over)
@
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Remarks from Eliot Pfanstiehl, President
&
CEO
Strathmore Hall Foundation, Inc.
March 23, 2010
Re: Bill No. 6-10
Noise Control- Arts and Entertainment Activities
pg2.
The Board of Directors of the Strathmore Hall Foundation, Inc. represents the larger community
and is guided by its primary objective to protect the substantial public investment in the
Strathmore facilities. With the capital investment of $48 million each by both Montgomery
County and the State of Maryland to build the Music Center, we were concerned about
maintaining our mission in the face of this new development.
In addition to the public funds expended, Strathmore generated private contributions and earned
income over the years that now exceed $50 million dollars. Protecting this public and private
investment is our moral and fiduciary responsibility.
We maintain that the County Council should amend the current Noise Ordinance to create an
exception for the outdoor activities for the cultural arts centers of Montgomery County. Unless
the Noise Ordinance is amended, it will only be a matter of time before the most accessible
programs will be curtailed by citizen appeals to the ordinance.
We want to thank you for allowing us to testify this evening and I would be happy to answer any
questions you may have.
@
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·
~
GcAi.
.=c.
GREATER CAPITAL AREA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS"
TESTIMONY OF
THE GREATER
CAPITAL AREA
ASSOCIATION OF
REALTORS®
BEFORE THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL REGARDING
"BILL
6-10~
NOISE CONTROL
-
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT ACTIVITIES"
March 23, 2010
Council President Floreen and members of the council, my name is Shelly Murray and lam the
2010 President for the Greater Capital Area Association ofREALTORS® ("GCAAR") - the
voice of Montgomery County and the District of Columbia's nearly 9,300 REALTORS®,
property managers, title attorneys and other real estate professionals.
On
behalf of GCAAR,
I
would like to make some comments regarding Bill 6-10.
REALTORS® Supportive of Disclosure
As many of you on the Council know, GCAAR has worked very closely with you in the past on
similar issues related to disclosures in the real estate contract. For example, the Historic
Preservation, Special Protection Area, agricultural, and most recently development districts and
estimated tax disclosures. GCAAR fully understands the intent of this new legislation and that it
is important so that homeowners and future homeowners are fully aware of any arts and
entertainment activities going on within a certain distance from their homes. Therefore, GCAAR
would like to work closely with the Council to find the most sufficient and adequate way for
residents to understand the arts and entertainment activities in the county.
Prior to this hearing, GCAAR met with lead sponsor Councilmember EIrich to discuss many of
our concerns that we have with yet another disclosure to the real estate contract. While GCAAR
is generally supportive of disclosure because it helps a buyer make a more informed decision
about a particular piece of residential property, we have many concerns with the recent increase
of government regulations on the real estate transaction, the mandates of disclosures and the
extra paperwork that they add to the real estate contract. As I'm sure many of you are aware,
over the years the real estate contract has gone from only a few pages to a very lengthy, thick and
overly cumbersome document. GCAAR has been working very hard over the years to find ways
to simplify and streamline the contract. And every new real property disclosure potentially adds
another page to the contract. And since this particular issue only affects a small part of the
county residents, we are concerned that the disclosure language is broader than necessary right
now.
A Better Way for Notification
GCAAR very clearly understands that there is a need to notify buyers of certain state and county
laws. We had a very good discussion with Councilmember EIrich on how to modify and amend
REALTOR·
8757 GEORGiA AVENuE' SIJiTE 600 • SILVt=R SPRING, MO 20910-3737
PHONE 301.590.200C • FAX 301.590.2248
www.gcoor.coM
EOU.L
'{DUSING
OPPORTUNITY
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the legislation to see if there is a way to remove the element of the real estate transaction and
maybe look at some type of public notice requirement. We have several suggested changes that
might accomplish the same goal without putting the burden on a seller to disclose an item that is
probably more feasibly accomplished through a public notice requirement.
Here are some of our suggested changes:
• Offer an amendment to change Section 40-12D to change the language so that it is NOT a
disclosure that a seller has to provide the buyer with;
• Change the disclosure to be a "Notice Requirement" on the performing arts facility where
5 or more outdoor
arts
and entertainment activities are held. They must notify all
homeowners within 300 yards that this facility is subject to special noise levels standards:
a. The notice must include information on the county's noise ordinance, noise levels
permitted to this facility, the activities conducted by the facility, homeowners'
rights, etc.
b. This notice should satisfy any legal issues as long as the notice is provided and it
also should be distributed in a certain timeframe should the facility choose to
change their activities
c. We would suggest the notice also be provided every 6 months or at least on an
annual basis;
• HOAfCondo docs - another way and an additional way would be to look into having this
notice included in the HOAfcondo documents so that buyers will be made aware that they
are purchasing within 300 yards of a performing arts facility
• Master plan look to see what is listed on the master plan and if there is anyway a buyer
could see this on a master plan
• Property tax records - the property tax records provide a lot of detailed information about
a home. Is there a way to include this information in an address search of a home?
• Strathmore Hall specific - All potential buyers must be given a notification that
Strathmore Hall is within 300 yards of where the homes are being built. The notification
would provide further information on the county's noise ordinance.
GCAAR looks forward to continuing to work on this issue to find a proper solution so that all
homeowners and future homeowners are properly notified about
arts
and entertainment activities
near their homes. Thank you for your consideration of GCAAR' s perspective on this issue.
2
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mF
C.C
~
LL
'nL
057886
NOISE CONTROL ADVlSORY BOARD
MEMORANDUM
July 6, 2010
TO:
Nancy Floreen
President, Montgomery County Council
JobnFuchs
Chair, Noise Control Advisory Board
Bill 6-10, Noise Control, Arts and Entertainment Activities
FROM:
SUBJECT:
The Montgomery County Noise Control Advisory Board (NCAB) has reviewed
proposed Bill 6-10, Noise Control, Arts and Entertainment Activities, sponsored by
Councilmember Eirich and Council President Floreen. Bill 6-10 would establish different
maximum noise levels for certain arts and entertainment activities and, in some cases, would
exempt the noise from these activities from being treated as a noise disturbance. We were
fortunate to have
Mr.
Dale Tibbitts, from Councilmember Marc Eirich's staff, attend our June
14,2010 meeting along with representatives from several of the County's Regional Services
Centers.
The NCAB is mandated by law to advise the County Executive, County Council,
and the Director ofthe Department of Environmental Protection on noise control issues.
Pursuant to this mandate, at its last meeting the Board and its guests discussed several concerns
regarding Bill 6-10 and provides the following comments:
• The definition of a "performing arts facility" is vague and could easily be misused.
• As written, noise mitigation plans do not need to be approved, just submitted, and
there is no recourse if an entity does not follow the noise mitigation plan. There may
be consequences associated with a County approval that would limit the County's
enforcement powers.
There is no oversight or enforcement. The County may have resource limitations in
these areas.
The burden of proof for a disturbance is on the affected property owner.
Noise mitigation plans are not required to be posted for public viewing, unlike a
permit. There was discussion about the mechanism for disclosing the special noise
considerations during real estate transactions of affected properties.
• It
is unclear whether there is an appeal process or what an appeal would involve.
• The term "exempted residential" requires further definition or clarification as it
applies to this topic.
255 Rockville Pike, Suite 120 • Rockville, Maryland 20850-2589 • 240-777-7700
www.montgomerycountymd.gov
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Nancy Floreen
July 6, 2010
Page 2
Following the infonnative discussions during our June 14th meeting, the NCAB
recommends that the County use the provision for a three-year noise waiver that is currently
allowed under Chapter 31B of the Montgomery County Code to address the underlying issues
that introduction of Bill 6-10 is expected to resolve.
It
is possible that slight modifications to the
current code may be required, but the legislative activity involved would be less than the .
introduction of a new law.
Mr.
Tibbitts also stated that the NCAB Chair is welcome to attend the upcoming
work session on this proposed legislation. I am happy to accept the invitation and
will
attend the
working session on July 15
th
to discuss our comments before the County moves forward with
Bi116-1O. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
cc:
County Executive Isiah Leggett
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THE GAZETTE.
Page
A·17
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Tum down the
.
volume in urban centers
.
I am writing to express my continued frustra­ the phone. Even walking down the street toward
tion with Ule volume of the concerts in down­ the AFI theater, it is not possible to just have a
town SUver Spring. They drown out every attempt conversation until we get around the corner.
at conversation for 100 yards.
This Saturday there
was
a chess tournament
When concerts are in force, it is impossible to (with players) struggling to concentrate over the
I
eat outside at the restaurants ....:.. the wait staff
ear splitting, static-filled sound.
As
a professional who follows health issues as
\ cannot hear our orders and I cannot hear them..
, Managers have told me they are not allowed to part of my job,
I
recognize this as clearly loud
complain about the volume.· Even inside, the enough to permanently damage hearing. I can't
sound drowns out ambiance and any music imagine that it is 'Within allowable decibel limits.
inside..
. If
it wasn't our own government sanctioning it,
I can't have friends call to ask where to meet there would be tickets and arrests. Parents should
me, because it is impossible to hear them over not be forced to decide between the fountain and
their children's safety. Employees should not have
to choose their jobs or their hearing.
.
I like the music most of the time. However,
I'm not going to permanently
ruin
my hearing for
it.
My calls have been met 'With empty promises
to;lower the dangerous volume. What organiza­
tion is accountable to th.e employees, diners, and
families in,downtown Silver Spring for the dan­
gerously high decibels of the noise here? When
will
the decibel levels be enforced? Who
will
take
responsibility and supervise
this
activity?
..
Andrea Chamblee,
Silver Spring
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..
For general comparisons about noise related issues please refer to the
following. All measurements are based on a distance of 6 feet
(industry standard):
• 30dBA is a whisper
• 45 dBA is rustling of leaves, background music
• 52 dBA is typical desktop computer
• 60 dBA is normal conversation
• 75 dBA is average radio, vacuum cleaner
• 80 dBA is busy office
• 82 dBA is inside coach section of typical passenger jet
• 85 dBA steady sound levels for a working shift of 8 hours of is the
maximum generally permitted as per the 1983 OSHA Published
Standards.
_
• 100 dBA tractor or power saw
• 120 dBA is chain saw, jackhammer or snowmobile
• 135 dBA is jet taking off, rock concert
• 140 dBA is threshold of pain, gunshot or siren
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OFFICE OF THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE
ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND 20850
Isiah Leggett
County Executive
MEMORANDUM
March 21, 2011
TO:
Valerie Ervin
County Council Presiden
Isiah Leggett
County Executive
FROM:
SUBJECT:
Bm 6-10,
Noise Control - Arts and Entertainment Activities
I am writing to express my support for noise legislation that addresses the importance of
outdoor performances at arts and entertainment venues and amenity spaces in our urban areas. These
activities provide, at a minimum, three significant positive contributions to the well being of County
residents amI businesses. First, these arts and entertainment activities materiaily enhance the quality of
life for County residents. Second, they provide positive activities
in
urban areas that help to deter crime
and create a safe environment. Third, they generate significant economic spillover as people dine and
shop at area businesses
in
connection with attending arts and entertainment events.
Bill 6-10, Noise Control- Arts and Entertainment Activities as originally introduced was
aimed at addressing performing arts facilities, but did not address outdoor programming that is desirable
within our urban areas - areas
in
which there is an expectation of higher levels of noise. The
Transportation and Environment (T&E) Committee adopted certain amendments requested by two local
Chambers of Commerce to address the urban areas. I believe those amendments, which were proposed
after the public hearing on the original bill, should be considered as a separate bill and be modified to be
more consistent with other County laws and department authority.
While I support amending the noise law to address outdoor arts and entertainment
activities generally, I recommend that the Council proceed with the Bill 6-1 as amended by the T&E
Committee with two exceptions. The first exception relates to the language which was added by
amendment to require that a qualifying performing arts facility be designated as such in an Executive
Order. Because there are no standards in the amended bill to address the circumstances under which a
designation would be granted or revoked and the definition of "quaIifying performing arts facility" is
otherwise sufficiently clear, I recommend that the Executive Order language be deleted as unnecessary.
Secondly, I recommend that Bill 6-10 proceed without the language relating to urban
areas in Section
31B-6B
which was added as an amendment by the T&E Committee.
I
will be sending a
new bill to the County Council to address arts and entertainment activities in our urban areas within the
next several weeks. I will ask the Council to adopt that bill as emergency legislation following a public
hearing.
°
montgomerycountymd.gov
1311
24Q-773-3S56 TTY
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Valerie Ervin, President
March 21,2011
Page 2
Bill 6·10, as described above, makes appropriate changes to the County's noise law to
address the types of outdoor concerts and entertainment that occur at our premier performing arts
facilities such as the Strathmore and Black Rock. I urge the Council to adopt the bill to provide a clear"
regulatory climate to allow for programming by qualifying perfonning arts facilities.
Executive Staff are available to answer Council questions and to participate in any future
worksessions on this bill.
c:
Tim Firestine, Chief Administrative Officer
Marc Hansen, County Attorney
Jennifer Hughes, Special Assistant to the County Executive
Kathleen Boucher, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
Diane Jones, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
Bob Hoyt, Department of Environmental Protection
Stan Edwards, Department of Environmental Protection
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Bill No.
6-10
Concerning: Noise Control- Arts and
Entertainment Activities
Revised:
3-23-11
Draft No. _5_
Introduced: March
2, 2010
Expires:
September
2, 2011
Enacted: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Executive: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Effective: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Sunset Date:
--!..!N~on'-!!:e::...._
_ _ _ _ __
Ch. _ _, Laws of Mont. Co. _ __
COUNTY COUNCIL
FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
By: Councilmember EIrich and Council President Floreen
AN
ACT to:
(1)
(2)
set different noise level standards for certain arts and entertainment activities;
exempt certain noise levels created by certain arts and entertainment activities from
being treated as a noise disturbance; and
(3)
[[require certain notices to be given to certain potential homebuyers near certain arts
and entertainment activities; and]]
[[(4)]) generally amend the County noise control law,
By amending
Montgomery County Code
Chapter 3IB, Noise Control
Sections 31B-2 and 31B-5
By adding
Chapter 31 B, Noise Control
Section 31B-6A [[and 31B-6B]]
[[Chapter 40, Real Property
Section 40-12D]]
Boldface
Underlining
[Single boldface brackets]
Double underlining
[[Double boldface brackets]]
* * *
Heading or defined term.
Added to existing law by original bill.
Deleted from existing law by original bill.
Added by amendment.
Deletedfrom existing law or the bill by amendment.
Existing law unaffected by bill.
The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland approves the following Act,'
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1
2
Sec.
1.
Sections
31B~2
and
31B~5
are amended, and [[Section]]
[[Sections]] Section 31B-6A [[is)] [[and 31B-6B are]]
is
added, as follows:
31B-2.
Definitions.
3
[(a)]
[(b)]
[(c)]
[(d)]
[(e)]
[(f)]
[(g)1
[(i)]
[G)1
[(k)]
[(1)]
[em)]
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
25
[en)]
[(0)]
26
27
[(P)1
*
*
*
2
*
*
*
*
*
*
F:\LAW\BILLS\I 006 Noise· Performing Arts Facility\1 006 Bill 5 (T&E Modified),Doc
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County
Register]]~
[(r)]
[(s)]
[(t)]
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
48
49
50
51
(1)
Except as otherwise provided
III
Section 3IB-6(a):1 3IB-6A,
[[3IB-6B,]] and 3IB-8, a person must not cause or permit noise
levels that exceed the following levels:
*
31B-6A.
entertainment activities.
*
*
52
53
Seasonal noise level standard for qualifying outdoor arts and
3
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54
55
56
57
(ill
If [[more than
~
performances of]] an outdoor arts and entertainment
activity will be conducted at
£!
qualifying performing arts facility, the
[[owner or manager]] operator of the facility may file
£!
noise
mitigation plan, prepared
!2y
an acoustical engineer or consultant, with
the Department. The plan must include:
58
59
60
61
ill
ill
ill
performance requirements;
the
and
information about the impact of the proposed arts and
entertainment activity and the planned nOIse mitigation
measures on the performers, the audience, and the occupants of
[[nearby]] properties within 1000 feet of the perimeter
of
the
facility.
~
of noise mitigation measures that the facility will use;
62
63
64
65
66
67
The Department must make each plan filed with it available to the
public and send
£!
9..QPY
to the Noise Control Advisory Board.
ili)
If the [[owner or manager]] operator of!! qualifying performing arts
facility submits
£!
completed noise-mitigation plan to the Department
and conducts [[at least 5]] all outdoor arts and entertainment
activities each year in accordance with that plan, each outdoor arts and
entertainment activity held at the facility must not exceed the
following noise decibel limits:
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
ill
ill
W
from
11
a.m.
to
11
p.m. during April
1
through October 31,
75
dBA, as measured on the receiving property; and
at all other times, the maximum allowable noise level set in
Section 31B-5.
A [[person]] qualifying performing arts facility which has filed a
noise mitigation plan and otherwise complied with this Section must
4
78
79
80
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81
not cause or permit nOise levels from an outdoor
arts and
82
83
84
85
86
entertainment activity
[[which is subject to this Section]] to exceed the
standards in subsection (Q1
@
Any outdoor
arts and entertainment activity
[[subject
!Q]]
conducted
at a
qualifying performing arts facility
which has filed a
noise
mitigation plan
and otherwise complied with this Section [[which
meets the standards in subsection
(hl]]
must not be cited as causing
noise disturbance.
~
87
88
89
90
W
For
~
qualifying performing arts facility
to remain in compliance with
this Section, its [[owner or manager]] operator must update its filed
91
92
noise mitigation plan
as necessary to reflect significant changes in
programming and noise control technology, and must file an updated
93
94
95
plan
with the Department not later than March
12
each year.
The
Department must annually advise the Executive and Council. al1d the
operator of each
qualifying performing arts facility.
whether the noise
levels specified in this Section remain appropriate for that
facility
and
the extent of compliance with those levels.
96
97
98
99
100
10 1
[[31B-6B.
Noise review procedure for outdoor arts and entertainment
activities in urban districts.]]
[[W
A defined area located in an urban district may qualify as a
permissible
performance location
if the area is:
102
103
ill
nominated for that purpose by the applicable urbaJ] district
advisory committee or urban district corporation board of
directors after the committee or board has:
104
105
106
107
(al
given at least 30 days' public notice on the website of the
applicable County
r~gional
services center that it is
considering a nomination of a specific area: and
5
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108
!Ji.l
(2)
reviewed and approved the nomination at a regularly
scheduled monthly meeting; and
109
110
after it is so nominated. designated by the County Executive as a
permissible performance location in an Executive Order
pyblished in the County Register. The Executive may revoke a
designation at any time by publishing an Executive Order
revoking the designation in the County Register.]]
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
HLb)
If an outdoor arts and entertainment activity will be conducted in an
urban district, the owner or operator of the designated permissible
~rformance
location where the activity will be conducted must first
file a noise information report with the applicable urban district
advisory committee or corporation board of directors.
information report must:
Each noise
120
121
122
ill
(2)
describe each arts and entertainment activity to
be
conducted
at that location;
list each performance date and time:
specifY who will sponsor each activity;
describe the target audience for each performance: and
identifY the permissible. performance location for each
activity.]]
123
124
125
126
ill
ill
ill
127
128
[[W The urban district committee oL..bQard must. reVIew each nOIse
information report at a regularly scheduled monthly meeting and advise
the owner or operator whether each proposed outdoor performance is
consistent with the goals and objectives. vision, and mission strategy of
the district. The committee or board must first give at least 30 days'
public notice onthe
web~ite
129
130
131
132
133
134
of the applicable County regional seryices
center that it will review a noise information report at a specific
6
@
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135
136
137
138
139
140
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142
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meeting. This review may occur in conjunction with the nomination of
a
permissible performance location
under subsection Ca).]]
[[@
If the owner or operator of each
permissible performance location
sub
lll
its a noise information report and receives the advice of the
applicable urban district advisory committee or comoration board, each
outdoor
arts and entertainment activity
conducted at the
location
as
specified in the report must be treated as complying with the noise
limits in Section 31B-5 and must not be cited as causmg a nOIse
disturbance.]]
[[W
To remain in compliance with this Section, the owner or operator of
each
permissible performance location
must update its noise
information report as necessary to reflect any significant changes in the
type of planned
arts and entertainment activities
and any additional
arts and entertainment activity
not previously described in the report.
An
updated noise information report may be file<:i at any time, but an
updated report must be filed not later than March 15 of each yearbefore
any outdoor
arts alld entertainment activity
may be conducted at that
permissible performance location
during that year.]]
[[ill
In its annual report filed under Section 68A-12Cdt each urban district
must list each
permissible performance location
that the district
nominated during that year and each noise information report that it
reviewed. The report also must list the types and number of noise
complaints about
outdoor arts and entertainment activities
in the
district that the district received during that year and discuss the
district's response. if any, to those complaints.
The district must
forward a copy of each written noise complaint that it receives to the
Department.]]
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162
163
164
165
166
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[[Sec. 2. Section 40-12D is added as follows:]]
[[40-12D.
Disclosure of noise from certain arts and entertainment activities.
If any residential real property is located within 300 yards of
~
ill
performing arts facility
where
~
or more outdoor
arts and
entertainment activities
which are subject to special noise level
standards under Section 31B-6A have been conducted during the
previous 12 months or are scheduled to be conducted in the next
12
months, any seller of that property must disclose to each prospective
buyer, before the buyer signs
~
contract to buy the property, that certain
seasonal outdoor
arts and entertainment activities
conducted at that
facility
are subject to special noise level standards which may exceed
otherwise applicable noise limits.
ili1
A prospective buyer must indicate,
Qy
signing an addendum to the
contract or
~
separate section of the contract printed in boldface
~
in
~
clearly demarcated box, that:
the seller has provided the information required
Qy
subsection
{it
and
ill
ill
the buyer understands that:
CA)
nearby property may be
~
source of periodic noise from
seasonal outdoor
arts and entertainment activities;
and
.em
Approved:
the buyer may obtain more information about noise limits
on these activities from the County Department of
Environmental Protection.]]
185
186
187
Valerie
Ervin,
President, County Council
8
Date
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THE WHITE FLINT COMMUNITY COALITION
Representing the wishes of the people of the White Flint area
Councilmember Valerie Ervin, President
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
Re: Bill 6-10, Noise Control - Arts and Entertainment Activities
Dear President Ervin and Members of the County Council:
The White Flint Community Coalition, launched in April, 2009, is comprised of seven
community bodies representing more than 3,200 households and 8,500 residents living in
or adjacent to the White Flint Sector. While we have supported vibrant mixed use
development, focused around the Metro, we have remained concerned about preserving
and protecting our existing quality of life in our residential neighborhoods.
Bill NO. 6-10 -Noise Control- Arts and Entertainment Activities impacts our
communities in two directions: From the south we are in close proximity to the
Strathmore Music Center; North of us lies the White Flint Sector planned to become an
Urban District. Both development activities pose different concerns for us. We ask the
following:
1. Bill 6-10 should be split into the two major parts based on the two major sections in
the bill:
• Section 31 B-6A. Seasonal noise level standard for qualifying arts and
entertainment activities
• Section 31B-6B Noise review procedure for outdoor arts and entertainments
activities in urban districts
2. Section 31B-6A, dealing with noise limits for the Strathmore Music Center should be
delayed until such time as the noise impact upon the community can be evaluated. At
the present time, due to construction, the communities are separated from Strathmore
by barren fields and construction equipment.
3. Section 31B-6A should be reworked to provide meaningful public input and to assure
protections for existing residential communities abutting or in close proximity to an
existing or proposed Urban District.
4. There should be opportunity for public discussion of both portions of the revised bills.
Combining the strength of community bodies representing more than
3, 200 househclds and 8,500 residents in cr near the White Flint Sector
Crest of Wickford Condominium Association . Garrett Park Citizens Association
Garrett Park Estates-White Flint Park Citizens' Association . Luxmanor Citizens Association
Parkwood Residents Association . The Sterling Condo HOA
Timberlawn Homeowners Association . Wickford Community Association
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Thank you for considering our comments.
Sincerely,
Della Stolsworth, (on behalf of the
\Vhite Flint Community Coalition)
2
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Montgomery County Noise Bill 6-10
Concerns of Strathmore's Neighbors
Strathmore Place Homeowner's Association
Garrett Park Estates - White Flint Citizens' Association
Wickford Community Association
1. Current regulations: Maximum level of 65 dB during the daytime, 55 dB after 9 PM. The new bill
would allow for increased noise levels to 75 dB from 11 AM to 11 PM (the decibel scale is
logarithmic and each increase in ten dB is a
10 fold increase
in the sound intensity or loudness.
Thus,
allowing an increase from 55dB
to
75dB is a one hundred-fold increase in actual sound
intensity.
2. The current statute already has a mechanism that would allow venues to apply for a waiver to
increase sound levels on a case by case basis.
3. Strathmore Music Center is located in a residential area and there are no sound abatement barriers
to block excessive noise from our communities. Houses on Strathmore A venue are 250 yards
from the new festival lawn area and 400 yards from the Gazebo. The new homes at Symphony
Park are planned to be 50 yards and 200 yards respectively.
4. Even under the current regulations, some members of our communities have complained that the
noise levels are so loud that their windows rattle during some of the Strathmore outdoor events.
5. The Montgomery County Noise Control Advisory Board, a citizen advisory board to the
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), did not support this Bill (July 6,2010) and
instead proposed that Strathmore Hall Foundation use the long-term (up to 3 years) noise waiver
process allowed
under the current law.
6. What scientific information has been provided that would justify changing the current noise level
regulation?
Major Problems with
Bill 6-10
• Time frame should be
only during summer school vacation.
New bill extends the time frame to
April- October which will seriously impact students during the school year.
• There are no provisions for monitoring of compliance
• There are no mechanisms for oversight, or enforcement. The County DEP does not have the
resources to enforce the law.
• Noise mitigation plans - Only requires the applicant to submit a plan, which DEP would review
but not approve or reject. Where is the funding to come from for DEP to do anything other than a
cursory review? DEP's budget will be tight just to deal with existing responsibilities.
Plans are not required to be posted for public viewing, unlike a permit.
There is no recourse if an entity does not follow the noise mitigation plan.
• The burden of proof for a disturbance is on the affected property owner. Bill 6-10 places the
requirement of monitoring and enforcement on the local residents. Who is in a better position to
absorb such an expense? Who actually would have the expertise to demonstrate compliance with
a worthwhile noise mitigation plan? The answers to these two questions is Strathmore.
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• The residential communities surrounding Strathmore have not had the opportunity to participate in
the process of considering this bill. Most of us were not even aware of it until last December, after
the testimony had been taken from the interested moving parties.
• Decisions are being made while a major constituency is not even available to voice their concern,
namely the future residents of Symphony Park whose houses will be right next to the Strathmore
Music Center Festival Lawn and Gazebo where outdoor events will be held.
Recommendations:
Our group of Community Associations in the area surrounding Strathmore Music Center, request the T&E
. Committee to recommend that the Council delay consideration of this bill for a year or two. During this
period, Strathmore can still conduct outdoor concerts and request a noise waiver using the existing waiver
procedure. In that time period, Strathmore Music Center and Symphony Park can actually install the
noise mitigation features they have in mind.
Insufficient information is known about the noise projection from outdoor concerts in the new
configuration with Symphony Park housing directly adjacent to the areas that Strathmore may use
(concerts at the Gazebo or on the Festival Lawn). The Council is being asked to "trust" without getting
any real verification.
We believe the producers of an event (meaning Strathmore) should be responsible for ensuring and
enforcing adequate monitoring. Thus, in order to put on outdoor activities, Strathmore should pay for the
installation and independent calibration (on an appropriate periodic time frame) of sufficient noise
monitoring equipment to DEMONSTRATE COMPLIANCE with the noise regulations.
Proper operation of the monitoring equipment would be a requirement for holding an outdoor event.
Strathmore would be required to operate this equipment for all outdoor events,
including
private outdoor
receptions held at the mansion and/or on the deck surrounding Symphony Hall. Adherence to the current
noise control standards for an appropriate period (such as 2 years), should be considered a prerequisite to
even beginning discussions with, and gaining community support for making reasonable adjustments to
the authorized noise levels for outdoor events. Any time an outdoor event is occurring at Strathmore (be
it public or private), Strathmore must have a person on premises with the power and authority to enforce
noise control.
If this legislation is passed, we urge the Council to put in a sunset provision of 2 years. This would then
allow the Council and all of the interested parties (especially the residents of Symphony Park which is not
constructed as yet), to review the results of the noise level monitoring during the first few years.
It
would be best if Strathmore and the local residential communities could agree on a noise monitoring
plan that would allow Strathmore reasonable assurance that it is meeting the noise regulation and would.
allow the residents the ability to monitor the noise level in real time (possibly on the internet). Strathmore
has not reached out to the neighboring communities. Often times, all stakeholders are brought together to
see what kind of accommodations can be developed.
Submitted: March 24, 2011
William H. Neches, MD
President Strathmore Place Homeowner's Association
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March 12,2011
David
L.
Comis
President, Wickford Community Assoc.
11005 Waycroft Way
Rockville, MD 20852
The Honorable Valerie Ervin, President
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
RE: Bill 6-10, Noise Control
Dear President Ervin:
The Wickford Community Association (a community of 50 homes just north of Georgetown
Prep) recently became aware of Bill 6-10 and wishes to request that the Council delay
consideration of this bill for a year or two. During this period, Strathmore can still conduct
outdoor concerts and request a noise waiver using the existing waiver procedure.
Insufficient information is known about the noise projection from outdoor concert configurations
that Strathmore may use. Delay will allow Strathmore the opportunity to take sound readings at
various locations to ensure their efforts do, in fact, limit sound levels to those approved by the
County. Once Strathmore can demonstrate this history of noise control, then a
dialogue/negotiation with surrounding homeowners may result in a proposed Bill that is fully
supported by Strathmore and the surrounding community.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Sincerely,
David
L.
Comis
President, Wickford Community Association
cc: Council members
Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
1
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March 13, 2011
David
L.
Comis
President, Wickford Community Assoc.
11005 Waycroft Way
Rockville, MD 20852
The Honorable Valerie Ervin, President
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
RE: Bill 6-lO, Noise Control
Dear President Ervin:
I previously sent you a request to delay Montgomery County Council action concerning Bill 6-10
for a year or two in order to develop some history for outdoor concerts at Strathmore. In the
event the Council determines that it will move forward with the Bill at this time, I would request
the following concerns be addressed.
The Wickford Community Association (a community of 50 homes just north of Georgetown
Prep) recently became aware of Bill 6-10 and wishes to oppose the Bill in its current form. Bill
6-lO unnecessarily changes the dynamic of the situation strongly in favor of Strathmore to the
detriment of the surrounding communities. As such, we request the Bill be modified to address
reasonable concerns expressed below.
.
Concern 1: This Bill should not be placed on the Council's agenda until 1) Strathmore and the
local communities have sat down and talked through the issue and, 2) a second public hearing is
completed. To date, this has not happened. Certainly the Council would prefer to have
Strathmore and the local community associations come to the Council with an agreed upon
proposal rather than a bitter disagreement. Even if agreement cannot be reached, a discussion
should certainly occur before the Bill comes before the Council for a final decision.
Concern 2: Bill 6-10 does not require public comment and approval by an official entity. This
provision is unacceptable. By removing a public comment and approval process Bill 6-10
removes interaction with the local community and will precipitate an adversarial relationship,
hurting Strathmore and the local community. This need not occur.
We support the requirement for Strathmore to submit a noise mitigation plan (drawn up
by an acoustical engineer or consultant) that limits noise to a specified level (currently proposed
to be no more than 75 dba at the property line of a surrounding home or place of residence, to
include live-in students at Georgetown Prep). We believe this plan (with proposed event dates)
must be made public and be actively advertised to communities that would be expected to have
evening noise levels greater than 55 dba. Such dissemination could be through surrounding
community associations or though limited mailings. Residents who would be affected (those
within the 55 dba threshold) should be allowed, and encouraged to comment on the acceptability
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ofthe schedule and the plan. Ideally, the initial feedback should be directed to Strathmore who
would make reasonable accommodation to valid points. However, the community must have a
means to publically address issues that Strathmore is unwilling or unable to change. The
community comment should be part of a public hearing in front of a body that has the authority
to direct Strathmore to make changes. This protects the community from unreasonable decisions
made by Strathmore, and protects Strathmore from unreasonable requests (or an outright veto)
from the surrounding community.
Suggested change: We ask that Paragraph 31 B-6A. Seasonal noise level standard for
qualifying arts and entertainment activities, Section (d) be modified to read: "Any outdoor arts
and entertainment activity [[subject to]] conducted at a qualifying performing arts facility which
operates within an approved [[has filed a]] noise mitigation plan and otherwise complied with
this Section [[which meets the standards in subsection (b)]] must not be cited as causing a noise
disturbance." We further ask that the noise waiver process of Paragraph 31 B-ll (a or b) be
utilized in preference to Paragraph 31 B-6A Section (e). Include public disclosure and a public
hearing provision in front of a designated approval board to address issues of those who may
have evening noise levels increased above the current 55 dba threshold (which may include
residents more than 300 meters from the Strathmore grounds).
Concern 3: Bill 6-10 allows Strathmore to submit a 3 year plan. Strathmore feels that a 3 year
plan is necessary in order to sign on and produce appropriate events. We believe this may be a
reasonable concern and, subject to the inclusion of the suggested changes in Concern 2 above,
would agree to working with a three year time horizon (which could be updated annually, again
subject to public comment and an approval process). This would meet the legitimate concerns of
Strathmore and still give the local community the opportunity to adapt, adjust, and suggest
changes IN ADVANCE of the events. Such a plan would also allow potential home buyers in
the surrounding community to know, in advance, how their home will be affected by their
proximity to Strathmore.
Concern 4: Bill 6-10 places the requirement of monitoring and enforcement on the local
residents. We believe the producers of the event (meaning Strathmore) should be responsible for
ensuring and enforcing adequate monitoring. As such, we strongly believe that, in order to put
on outdoor activities, Strathmore should pay for the installation and independent calibration (on
an appropriate periodicity) of sufficient noise monitoring equipment to DEMONSTRATE
COMPLIANCE with the noise regulations.
It
would be best if Strathmore and the local
community could agree on a noise monitoring plan that would allow Strathmore reasonable
assurance that it is meeting the noise regulation and would allow the residents the ability to
monitor the noise level in real time (possibly on the internet). Proper operation of the equipment
would be a prerequisite for holding an outdoor event. Strathmore would be required to operate
this equipment for all outdoor events,
to include
private outdoor receptions held at the mansion
and/or on the deck surrounding Symphony Hall. Proper operation of the equipment and
adherence to the current noise control standards for an appropriate period (such as 2 years),
should be considered a prerequisite to even beginning discussions with, and gaining community
support for making reasonable adjustments to the authorized noise levels for outdoor events.
Any time an outdoor event is occurring at Strathmore (be it public or private), Strathmore
should/must have a person on premises with the power and authority to enforce noise
2
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regulations, and real time contact information for this person should be posted on the Strathmore
website.
If the Council ultimately decides that noise levels will be increased from their current
levels, then the following additional changes should be strongly considered.
Concern 5: Bill 6-10 allows for increased decibel levels between April and October. This is too
long a period of time. Increased levels may be appropriate for late nights outside of the public
school year (meaning June 15th to August 31st). The days are longer then; adults and children
tend to go to sleep later in the evening. Allowing for increased noise levels until later in the
evening may be tolerated without major impact of the fabric of the Wickford community.
Suggested change: We ask that Paragraph 31B-6A. Seasonal noise level standard for qualifying
arts and entertainment activities, Section (b) (1) be modified to either specify the dates of June
th
15 thru August 31
S\
or the time when public schools in Montgomery County are not in session.
Concern 6: Bill 6-10 does not distinguish between school nights and weekends. For periods
outside of mid June to late August, the surrounding community has an expectation of quiet
during the evening and sleeping hours associated with normal work and school days. As such,
evening noise should not be considered for school nights (meaning Sunday through Thursday
evenings). In addition, as this is not the summer, 9 p.m. is the accepted quiet time for the
neighborhood (as is enforced in the current regulations). Suggested change: We ask that
Paragraph 31B-6A. Seasonal noise level standard for qualifying arts and entertainment activities,
Section (b) (1) be modified to provide that all activities outside of the time period agreed upon in
Concern 5 (above) should be limited to Friday and/or Saturday and end by 9 p.m.
Thank you for considering these issues.
Sincerely,
David L. Comis
President, Wickford Community Association
cc: Council members
Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
3
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Page 1 of2
Faden, Michael
From:
Sent:
To:
Stephen Szara [siszara@earthlink.net]
Thursday, March 24, 2011 10:53 AM
Faden, Michael
Subject: Sound level around Strathmore
Dear Members of the Council Transportation and Environment Committee:
The Director of Strathmore is proposing an astonishing, unnecessary and community-destructive
100-fold increase in the sound intensity (55 to 75 on the decibel scale means the energy of the
sound waves at 75 is a mUltiple of 100 times the energy at 55 - scientific explanation of this fact
below) of public and private events held on small grounds in the middle ofthousands of homes,
town-homes and high rise condos.
That increase is unnecessary for the participants in the public and private events, or in likely
concerts by promotors, to hear every sound produced by the performance fully.
It
is therefore
unnecessary for any reasonable performance he may wish to plan. So the only reason can be an
intention to plan larger very loud type music events such as e.g. big rock concerts.
The increase will mean that the sound carries many time further into residential communities (at
55 it can already be heard in a home 600-900 yards from the venue; at 75 it will reach a quarter of
a mile. The increase will severely impact residents' lives, their enjoyment of where they have lived
since well before Strathmore outdoor events, their fatigue level at school and work, and for some,
their health.
Critical for the Committee's assessment ofthis Bill are these realities ofthe physics of sound,
because the numbers 55 to 75 seem modest when on that scale the difference is huge, a
MULTIPLE of 100 in noise level.
Here's why: The range of human hearing, from faint sounds to, literally, eardrum damaging sound
wave pressure is such that a logarithmic scale is used to conveniently represent that range is double
digits, rather than having to use very large numbers with many zeros. The decibel scale is convenient
mathematically, but the log decibel scale makes profound increases in sound pressure ("loudness")
seem small because we all typically think, use and compare linear, not log scales. E.g. rulers, bath
scales, increasing fines for offenses, budget planning, car mileage odometers and GPS mileage
calculations all use linear scales, where the size ofthe unit of increase is constant (e.g. miles or
ounces).
With the log scale of decibels the size of the unit of measurement, one decibel, becomes bigger by a
MULTIPLE of 2 for each three decibel increase, and thus a MULTIPLE of 10 for every 10th
decibel increase. 55-65 is not adding 10 but multiplying by ten the sound energy at 55; 65-75 is
another multiplying by ten the energy at 65. Thus,55 to 75 is an increase of 100 times in the
loudness energy of the sound waves broadcast into Strathmore's neighbors' homes, decks and
minds.
So Strathmore is proposing to use an amplified megaphone 100 times larger to project sound from
public events, private parties and promotor-sponsored events into our homes. This is a very
aggressive act against neighbors with whom the Strathmore leadership has never even bothered to
3/24/2011
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Page 2 of2
inform, much less consult on the matter.
I ask the Council to be mindful that sound generated 100 time louder has 100 times the sound wave
pressure energy and will carry far further than the existing nighttime events do.
For comparison an air
pellet gun with 100 times more pressure than a target gun becomes an extremely dangerous
weapon that can cause injury at great distances.
It
this outrageous increase in noise level is allowed
the Council will hear complaints from residents in a quarter mile radius--thousands of residents will be
harmed
Those events already rattle windows, disrupt quiet family time when families rejoin after days of school
and work, and seriously disturb those who must go to sleep at 9 or 10 p.m. for the next day's work,
school, church, and other commitments.
In my own case, already have serious problems with falling asleep in the evening due to some of the
medications I am taking for other medical problems. Raising the noise level would make things
intolerable as all the bedroom windows
in
my house are facing the Strathmore grounds.
I have lived here for 27 years, long before the current Strathmore leadership started outdoor public
events, and loud private functions with bands on the Music Center Terrace. This has always been a
quiet residential area at night. Strathmore's outdoor events have been tolerable, though disturbing and
clearly audible inside my home. Allowing a 100-fold increase in loudness will seriously degrade my
quality of life
Stephen Szara, M.D., D.Sc.
10901 Jolly Way
Kensington, MD, 20895
3/24/2011
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Page 1 of2
Faden, Michael
From:
George Nolfi [dr.nolfi@verizon.net]
Thursday, March 24, 2011 11 :36 AM
Faden, Michael
Sent:
To:
Subject:
please provide this memorandum to Councilmembers on T&E
Memorandum for the Montgomery County Council regarding Bill 6-10
Please consider the following six realities of the risks and harm the proposed increase in allowable noise
level will cause.
1.
Renters ofthe facility (private parties or promotors ofcommercial events ofa type that may bring
other problems as well) will be allowed to power loudspeakers 100 times louder than is now allowable
(see characteristics of the logarithmic decibel scale, with it's mUltiplicative, not additive nature
below). Why doe anyone who rents the Terrace or the Gazebo/lawn area need to be given the right to be
so disturbing when we neighbors don't disturb their festivities? Why does some 'here today, gone
tomorrow' event promotion business need to be given the right to push it's sound much further into
neighboring communities with 100 times greater amplified air pressure force of each sound wave, and
100 times greater force to push their sound into private residences against the will of those residents?
There is no fair or reasonable reason for this BilL
2. Since Strathmore's Administration has never extended the neighboring totally residential
communities even the courtesy ofa notice regarding it's intentions to seek this huge increase in
permissible disturbance to us, much less the civility ofa consultation to work out a mutually acceptable
presence, with the existing noise limits (amount, days ofweek, hours, months) this Bill is a license for an
aggravation ofthose arrogant attitudes towards supportive neighbors.
There is no fairness to residents
in passing this bill that will further encourage Strathmore's administration to thumb it's nose at the very
neighbors who volunteer and donate to it's operations.
3. Given that attendees at outdoor events (again public andprivate, which are a greater risk) have
never had trouble hearing every note or word ofa performance or speaker (as anyone like myselfwho
has attended many will testify), what in God's name does Strathmore's administration have in mind that
will require amplifiers and speakers 100 times more powerful than at present???
If attendees at private
and public events can fully hear all they need to hear, there is no fairness or reason to give facility renters
a carte blanche to "reach out and 'bang' on neighbors' windows.
4. The elephant in the Council Chamber here is the unspecified events such as rock bands (music I
happen to like by the way, so familiar example only) with multiple huge speakers at a lavish private
event, or before thousands offans on the now expanded lawn. This Bill allows a band to crank up its
amplifiers so that the sound waves will be physicallyfelt (as railroad train is by someone standing at a
crossing), not only heard, sitting on our decks. What are we to do, wear ear plugs to sleep, play our
newsradios, stereos, TVs excessively loudly to try to blot out the noise being thrust into our homes?
There is no fairness or 'equal protection' to the entirely residential areas that adjoin the Strathmore
property if the Council gives such commercial promotional agents and music groups the right to
disturb residents of those areas at will, when the 100 fold increase in amplifier volume is not needed for
their ticket purchasers.
They don't need the volume ofthe announcer and music at Nationals Park.
5. The present law was developed with EPA, OSHA and known science about sound perception and
transmission. And it provided a safety valve protecting the rights ofimpacted residents while providing
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Page 20f2
a venue or other sound source a procedure to obtain exemptions for exceptional or unavoidable
circumstances.
It
is an intelligent, practical piece of public policy and public protection, allowing for
unusual needs of unusual events and extenuating circumstances. Bill 6-10 trashes all those values and
that utility of the existing, established noise law that has served us well.
In order for affected residents
to have a seat at the table the allowable limits must not be increased Under the existing limits, the
Strathmore program can proceed unharmed, and Strathmore can work with it's neighbors to resolve any
problems that may arise.
6.
Proponents of
6-1
0 are being misleading when they suggest they are just requesting a modest
increase. Acoustically, a 100-fold sound pressure intensity increase is being proposed
This is
understood because ofthe mathematical differences in the decibel scale (a log scale) compared to the
linear scales we more routinely see in daily life, such as a tape measure or a thermometer, a car
speedometer, a tire pressure gage.
The log scale ofsound intensity (the actual pressure ofsound waves hitting an eardrum or windows ofa
house) means that goingfrom
55
decibels to
75
decibels increases sound wave air pressure 100
times. An accurate comparison is putting a one pound weight on your shoulders for a walk, then
increasing it to 100 lbs. but having someone tell you that it is only 30% increase. Your pain tells you they
are being deceptive.
On a logarithmic base scale, which the decibel scale is, 55 to 65 means the intensity at 55 MULTIPLIED
BY 10, not just adding 10. The same applies with an increased intensity to 75, which is ten times that at
65, with the result that the sound intensity from outdoor events at Strathmore will increase 100 fold.
Thank you for considering this request that you retain the fair balance of Strathmore and community
interests and fair process for dealing with extenuating circumstances embodied in the present law by
defeating the unfair and un-needed amendment 6-10.
George Nolfi
5113 Strathmore Ave.
dr.nolfi@verizoll.net
3/24/2011
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Page 1 of 4
Faden, Michael
From:
Sent:
To:
Cc:
Edward Lijewski [ed.lijewski@gmail.com]
Thursday, March 03, 20111:40 PM
Montgomery County Council
Faden, Michael; stan.edwards@montgomerycountvmd.gov
Subject: Who's Kidding Whom? Strathmore's Outdoor Events-The Elephant on the Lawn (and the Patios)
Date:
To:
March 4,
2011
Montgomery County Council
~u~1Y.Council@mgntgoJTlerycountymd.gov
Cc:
Micb~el. f£!.gen@J.!lQ!J1gQmemQ!Jn1~md.gov;
stan.edwards@montgomerycountvmd.go\i
From:
Edward lijewski,
5200
Bangor Drive, Kensington, MD
20895
Subject:
the Patios}
Reference:
Who's Kidding Whom? Strathmore's Outdoor Events-The Elephant on the Lawn (and
Bill
6-10,
Noise Control- Arts and Entertainment Activities.
Strathmore Music Center must not be granted waivers to exceed existing noise level standards for its
outdoor music events. Strathmore Music Center must schedule only events which will not exceed
those standards.
Who's Kidding Whom? Or, An Exercise in Delusion Strathmore Music Center is in a principally
residential neighborhood. The communities of Strathmore Place, western areas of Garrett Park
Estates, and St. Angela Hall are its current immediate neighbors, with residents of Symphony Park
townhouses soon to be its newest and nearest neighbors. Even cursory views from above (attached
screen grab from Google Earth and Symphony Park Site Plan) make perfectly clear that Strathmore's
outdoor events have been and in the future will be held with minimal distances between its nearby
and soon to be immediate neighbors as well. Allowing Strathmore's outdoor events to exceed existing
noise level standards is a certain prescription for many seriously displeased neighbors of Strathmore
who otherwise whole-heartedly support its indoor programs.
SMC did not reach out to its neighbors re noise from earlier outdoor events; only when some
neighbors complained to MC EPA about excessive noise were sound measurements taken
(2006)
all
but one of which exceeded existing noise level standards did SMC focus on this issue.
Telling, nor did SMC reach out to its current neighbors regarding its promotion of the subject bill to
allow it to exceed existing noise level standards.
Equally tellingly, nor did council Member Floreen, a resident of Garrett Park, inform the Garrett Park
Estates-White Flint Park community association or any of those GPE-WFP residents residing closest to
SMC to solicit views on how the subject bill would affect them.
3/24/2011
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Page 2 of 4
The ostensible reason for not doing that regarding the subject bill is the focus on likely objections from
residents of Symphony Park to noise from SMC's future outdoor events.
The proposed measure for dealing with future objections from Symphony Park neighbors, in addition
to the covenant to be included in all property deeds, is to preempt such likely objections, even to
noise exceeding current level standards, by granting a waiver to exceed existing standards and extend
the allowable hours and calendar period for doing so. Granted, Symphony Park residents will have
received information on that before they move in, but few if any of those residents will have any
personal experience or reference point for how those noise level standards will actually affect them.
And, with Symphony Park homes likely to cost close to $1 million, those residents individually and
certainly collectively will be able to obtain highly qualified legal counsel to represent them vis-a-vis
intrusive or excessive noise from SMC's outdoor events into their homes. This is the exercise in self­
delusion represented by the subject bill and its supporters and proponents. Neither the covenant in
Symphony Park deeds nor a noise level waiver as in the subject bill should it be passed will resolve the
issue with reasonable confidence now and going forward.
So, what will resolve the issue? One thing and one thing only: SMC must schedule only those outdoor
events which by their nature and size (artists and musical genre) will not exceed existing noise level
standards and otherwise be a nuisance to immediate and nearby neighbors. Essentially this means no
or only minimal and restricted use of sound amplification, and probably requiring tickets/passes (even
if free of charge) to manage the size of audiences.
If the subject bill is approved, it will assure immediate and long-term acrimony and disharmony
between affected residents and SMC. No other outcome could be reasonably predicted. A residential
community does not abide continued noise intrusions exceeding established level standards as such
excesses negatively affect and diminish residents quality of life. A personal experience illustrates this
point: a neighbor objected to music he considered too loud from an outdoor party at an adjacent
house. When his request to lower the volume didn't work to his satisfaction, he moved his own
phonograph outdoors, directed its speakers toward the offending noise, and turned up the volume.
Neither side budged for several hours. Why shouldn't a Symphony Park resident consider such a
drastic move if he/she was truly bothered by noise from SMC's outdoor events and had no other legal
recourse?
I have been a resident of GPE-WFP since 1968 and at my current address since 1974. Increasingly, our
community is negatively affected by noise which need not be generated or generated at existing
levels. Sounds (noise) from SMC's outdoor events are heard in my yard, and with windows open in my
living room and bedroom. Sounds (loudspeakers) from the Pike's Peak 10K race each April are heard
similarly. Loudspeakers used at Georgetown Preparatory School track and field events are heard
similarly. Loudspeakers used by the Korean community at their annual fair held on Holy Cross High
School athletic field are heard similarly. Loudspeakers at Grosvenor Metro Station and on Metro
trains are heard similarly. None of these unwanted and unnecessary intrusions into and
diminishments of my and other residents quality of life is warranted. Each and all either exceed noise
level standards, or if not their sound levels nonetheless should be monitored and reduced to minimal
effective levels in consideration of residents rights to not be bothered by noise. A telling characteristic
common to all unwanted noise described above is that it typically is under supervision of individuals
and largely involves people who do not live in the immediate and affected neighborhood.
If SMC is allowed to exceed existing noise level standards, these and any other similar future events are
3/24/2011
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Page 3 of 4
likely to feel free and unrestrained to blast away their play-by-play announcements over loudspeakers
and further degrade our neighborhoods' rightful expectations of peace and quiet untrammeled by
external disturbances.
SMC generates unwanted noise not only in outdoor lawn events, but also in events held on its parking
lot and parties/receptions held on its two patios. The latter can be particularly bothersome occurring
during warmer weather evenings as noise ("music") is heard from one's patio or even bedroom with
windows open-needing to close the windows to block out the noise is particularly maddening.
SMC's location on a hilltop and architectural design make it imperative that SMC management
vigilantly monitor and manage noise generated on its property-in SMC-sponsored events or in private
party receptions or parking lot events. Noise generated on SMC's two patios bounces off the angled
north walls of the Music Center and is directed northward towards St. Angela Hall and homes on the
north side of Strathmore Avenue, thus probably resulting in a larger noise impact on those affected
areas.
Street Parking Issues With outdoor events at SMC (and Georgetown Prep) typically come major
parking issues in our neighborhood streets as waves of cars often turn off Strathmore Avenue on Jolly
Way to park on adjacent streets. Yes, the streets are public and anyone can park on them. The issue
for concerned residents is the number of people in cars parking on both sides of streets such that only
one-way traffic is possible. As well, many looking for parking consciously ignore parking regulations
and standard protocol (don't park right at the corner; don't block driveway entrances). Littering by
such parkers occurs also; and affected residents may be rightfully concerned that some few who seek
parking could return to the neighborhood later for possibly nefarious purposes.
A 2005 SMC outdoor event featuring Nils Lofgren, an artist of renown who grew up in Rockville
(http://www.thebigtic1E:.!ts.com/concerts-event-tickets/pop-rock/nils-Iofgren-tickets) resulted in huge
numbers of people from all over the Metro area most of whom parked in our neighborhood; many cars
had license plates from Virginia and West Virginia. Noise from that event was equally objectionable to
many residents. SMC hasn't repeated a mistake of overreaching of that scale to date, but little would
prevent it from scheduling something similar in the future if the subject is passed. Georgetown Prep's
outdoor athletic events bring surges of non-resident cars onto upper GPW-WFP and Strathmore Place
streets with similar inconsiderateness on the part of many of the drivers of those cars.
The Crux of the Issue. The focus of the subject bill on decibel levels re SMC outdoor events misses the
crux ofthe issue for affected residents which is that SMC must reduce the footprint and sound print of
those events. From the opening ofthe Music Center in 2005, Strathmore's vision for its outdoor
events schedules was often out of synch with its responsibility as a resident in a residential community.
Yes, Strathmore held outdoor events prior to 2005 but none of those were of the scale and sound-size
as those typically scheduled from 2005 onward. Strathmore must return that reduced but still viable
and attractive and community-serving vision of scheduling events with smaller footprints and sound
prints. The limitations of its location-on a hilltop, near to existing residential homes in upper GPE­
WFP and Strathmore Place and St. Angela Halt even nearer to residential homes now under
construction in Symphony Park-inescapably requires no less if Strathmore expects to be seen as a
responsible, considerate neighbor. SMC is not and should think of itself and its mission as a
Merriweather Post Pavilion or Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan) Pavilion.
If not, what we would be left to consider is marching around SMC as did Joshua with rams horns and
3/24/2011
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Page 40f4
shouting residents so that the walls of the SMC collapse.
Please see this slideshow containing photos illustrating the proximity of Strathmore Place, upper
Garret Park Estates, and St. Angela Hall to Strathmore Music Center, and photos taken from
Strathmore Music Center's upper patio and lawn music pavilion looking towards those of its immediate
neighbors.
Thank you for your consideration of and attention to these important matters.
3/24/2011
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Page 1 of3
Faden, Michael
From:
Sent:
To:
Cc:
Edward Lijewski [ed.lijewski@gmaiLcom]
Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:22 PM
Montgomery County Council
Faden, Michael; Edwards, Stan
Subject: Noise Bill 6-10
To:
CounJ:yJ;;ouncil@montgomerycountymd.gov
cc:
Michael.:fudel)@montgom~IYCot!!ltymd.goy; ~lan.edwards@montgomerycountvmd.gov
From:
Edward Lijewski, 5200 Bangor Drive, Kensington, MD 20895
Subject: Noise
niH
6-10
I provided initial comments regarding Noise Bill 6-10 on March 4, 2011; this email contains my
additional comments on this matter.
Strathmore's Outdoor Music Events: Symphony Park Residents Will Have No Idea What They
Are In For.
In an email thread attached, Symphony Park's sales agent replied to my questions about the area of the
site plan (http:/Lvvww.liveatsymphonypark.com/images/Site_Plan.jpg) identified as Festival Lawn. I
used the "Contact Us" page of the Symphony Park website to ask what was intended for Festival Lawn,
what kind of activities/events would take place there, etc. I said I thought Festival Lawn was very close
to many of the planned residences and wondered about noise from possible events.
As shown in the email thread, very little information on such matters was offered, and nothing in
particular about kinds of events, sounds likely to be generated, noise levels, etc.
3/24/2011
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Page 20f3
This clearly demonstrates that many if not most prospective buyers of Symphony Park residences will
be in for a big surprise, and an unpleasant one, as they experience not just the current, reasonable noise
level standards and time durations for such Strathmore events, but substantially increased noise limits
and extended day time and seasonal durations.
As my March 4th communication noted ("Who's Fooling Whom?"), Noise Bill 6-10 is passed solves
nothing and actually lays the groundwork for a perfect storm of future neighborhood objections and
opposition to Strathmore's outdoor events, by Symphony Park residents as well as by existing residents
of nearby communities.
Strathmore Music Center Has Not Demonstrated That
It
Cannot Live With the Current Noise
Level Standards.
Strathmore asserts in effect that it cannot book outdoor events which would perform within the current
noise level limits. But, Strathmore has not demonstrated that that cannot be done. No proposal such as
Bill 6-10 should be considered in the absence of clear evidence that: a) there are no artists/activities of
any kind for outdoor events which would perform within the existing noise level standards; and b) that
Strathmore had convincingly carried out a management plan to monitor and control noise from its
outdoor events for such compliance. Neither of these conditions have been met or even attempted by
Strathmore. Rather, Strathmore has made an end-run around these issues and existing neighborhood
complaints about excessive noise from outdoor events by pleading to the County Council that
it
can only
continue to hold outdoor events if the standards as in Bill 6-10 are put into effect. And, Strathmore, and
Symphony Park, are not being totally transparent to prospective buyers of Symphony Park residences
regarding what the current noise level standards are and how they might be affected by noise from
Festival Lawn, much less how they might be affected to an even greater degree (twice as much, as the
decibel increase in is logarithmic) by the standards of Bill 6-10. This is simply astonishing for its
brazenness.
The Motivation of Strathmore's Neighbors Who Oppose Bill 6-10
I and many others who oppose Bill 6-10 firmly believe that Strathmore can book outdoor events which
will comply with existing noise level standards. But beyond that we stand firm in our common goal of
maintaining the quality of life in our totally residential communities and resisting unwarranted,
unwanted, and total unnecessary intrusions of noise which exceed existing noise level standards from
whatever source. We very much like our communities, our neighborhoods, our homes, in very large
part because of what they were
before Strathmore
arrived; and we will work continuously to maintain
those same qualities that drew us to where we do, while recognizing that Strathmore can become a good
neighbor and a full partner with us in this effort.
3/24/2011
@
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Page 3 of3
The County Executive's Support for
Bill 6-10
re Strathmore
I and many of my neighbors who share my views see in the County Executive's support for Bill 6-10 a
failure to recognize the realities I point out above as well as those in my March 4th communication,
while totally buying in to the fallacious premise that Strathmore has no option regarding scheduling
outdoor events than to select artists/groups which will generate noise that cannot be monitored and
controlled so as to comply with existing noise level standards. An objective review of the
landscape/site plan for Symphony Park and Festival Lawn can reach no other conclusion than that
Festival Lawn is completely inappropriate for events which would be allowed to generate noise at the
increased levels of Bill 6-10. Strathmore can easily succeed in fulfilling its vision and mandate
regarding outdoor events under existing noise level standards; it only needs to be told to do so.
Thank you for your consideration of and attention to this matter and related issues.
FYI, please click on this link which contains a few photos with identifying captions that show the
closeness of Strathmore Music Center to Garrett Park Estates, Strathmore Place, and St, Angela Hall
residences.
httRlI~QQ~RhQ1Qlm.£k~L~Q1JJL~1p.ur!l§ih~aLPC_8~QLStrathillm:e%l_ON
0
ise/7
albumview~-=slideshow
.
­
Sincerely,
Edward Lijewski
3/24/2011
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on
RI E
Developers of a new project
next to Strathmore hope to
strike just the right note with
luxury homebuyers
By
Christine MacDonald
Symphony
Park
at Strathmore
will have all the bells
and whistles that come with luxury townhomes-spacious in­
teriors, customizable gourmet kitchens, master suites and baths.
But it's not the bay windows and Juliet balconies that will set
this Rockville community apart from the glut of high-end con­
dos and townhomes currently languishing on the region's real
estate market.
Past the English gardens adorned with sculptures and foun­
tains, just a five-minute walk through a grove of shade trees, Sym­
phony Park residents will come upon the development's name­
sake and inspiration: the Music Center at Strathmore, with its
concerts, art exhibits, dance and yoga classes and other year­
round cultural offerings.
The developer, Streetscape Partners, describes Symphony Park
as an "integrated arts and residential community:'
Bethesda Magazine HOME
I
March/April 2011 153
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symphony rises
'i~;8~.~,~Gll1~1ra!.;'~iij~~~~~.~
.. :->i
\i~;~;~xg~i
top-level loft and two rooftop terraces,
one above the garage and another at loft
level. Buyers can add an elevator, one of
many options. The larger residences over­
look private front gardens, as well as the
communal garden spaces beyond. The
roof terraces, meanwhile, overlook gar­
dens and landscaped back lots.
The overall effect will be "a spacious
feeling," says McLaurin, who notes that
the site plan was inherited from Cen­
tex, the Dallas-based homebuilder that
abandoned its
blueprin~s
for the prop­
erty in 2008 after the real estate market
crashed. Centex had finalized the layout
and won county zoning approval to build
112 townhomes on about half of the 18­
acre site. The new developers kept the site
plan, the number of units and even the
name. For everything else, McLaurin says,
they went back to the drawing board.
"We had the interests of Strathmore
in mind in everything we did, and we en­
gaged them in the process;' he says. For in­
stance, designers nixed plans for terraces
facing the concert hall out of respect for
Strathmore patrons who might not want a
view of residents' rooftop parties. Arld "we
don't have a clubhouse, per se;' he says,
"but we hope people will use the Strath­
more to
fulfill
the same social needs."
That's also the hope of Eliot pfanstiehl,
Strathmore's CEO. pfanstiehl has been
one of Symphony Park's biggest support­
ers since the American Speech-Language­
Hearing Association (ASHA) sold the
parcel last May to Streetscape Partners, a
newly formed venture that brings together
two longtime local players: Virginia-based
luxury builder Michael Harris Homes and
former Federal Reality executive Ron Ka­
plan of Bethesda. The Philadelphia-based
real estate investment firm, Lubert-Adler
Partners, is providing financing.
"There's nothing else like it that I
know of;' Pfanstiehl says. "If you love the
arts, you can't do better than this."
Pfanstiehl's approval marks an about­
face: In 2005, when ASHA announced
that it had struck a deal with Centex,
pfanstiehl told
The Washington Post
he
was "appalled" by plans to add housing
so close to the concert hall, which the
county had just opened next door to the
1899 Strathmore Mansion.,The music
center already was contending with
complaints from nearby residents about
the noise from its outdoor concerts.
When Centex walked away from a
substantial deposit two years ago, sever­
al developers sought the property before
Streetscape closed the deal. Its tweaks to
the project are what won over Pfanstiehl.
Construction began in. the summer
of2010. The units will be move-in ready
by this summer, with pre-sales already
underway.
In addition to offering 17 of the town
houses at below market prices that corre­
spond to the county's affordable housing
requirements, Streetscape will deed the
county 5 acres containing an amphithe­
ater and adjacent woods.
Real estate developers have long
used cultural attractions as a lure for
homebuyers. The Watergate's distinc­
tive, curved architecture was drawn up
in the early 1960s to match the planned
but later aborted designs for The Ken­
nedy Center. More recently, Arts District
Hyattsville features art galleries and artist
studios, and Abdo Development plans an
arts walk-a pedestrian footpath flanked
by art galleries, artists' studios, shops arid
eateries-to run down the center of the
neighborhood it's building around Cath­
olic University in Northeast D.C.
"I think it's a great thing for the de­
velopers to be part of a great communi­
ty like Strathmore;' says Bob Youngen­
tob, president of the Bethesda-based EYA,
which is building Arts District Hyattsville
and competed against Streetscape for the
Strathmore parcel. "Partnering with the
community in which you are develop­
ing is a very important part of developing
During
residents might throw open balcony
doors and hear strains of Bach or Mozart
wafting across the Strathmore's lawn.
They'll also get a complimentary, three­
year membership to Strathmore's "Cir­
cles;' which normally would cost at least
$2,500 a year, and includes access to the
center's members-only lounge, con­
cierge ticket service and invitations to
private receptions with the artists. The
county-owned center hosts 160 live per­
formances a year-everything from clas­
sical, country and rock 'n' roll to India's
Nrityagram Dance Ensemble.
Priced at $1 million to $1.4 million
(with pre-construction offers starting at
$900,000), the town houses were designed
by the Vienna, Va.-based Lessard Group,
the architectural
firm
behind several other
upscale townhome projects
ip
the area, in­
cluding The Brownstones at Park Potomac
in Potomac. But Jack McLaurin, who man­
ages Lessard's single family and townhome
department, sees this one as unique.
"It's one of the last buildable open
spaces in Montgomery County," he says.
And "we are trying to create a commu­
nity that appeals to the patrons of the arts
center and provide a home design that
appeals to them. We think it
will
be a pro­
totype of high-end, luxury townhomes in
more of a European style:'
The units will be more London row
house than Georgetown town house,
McLaurin says, with paler fa<;:ades, reverse
gables and turret-style roofs. The build­
ers have opted for molded brick, solid
wrought-iron railings, cast-stone door
and window frames and limestone steps.
Each four-story unit will measure
3,000 to 4,000 square feet, including a
the
summer,
154
March/April 2011
I
Bethesda Magazine HOME
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symphony rises
He notes that even once successful concepts
such as golf course communities are failing
as buyers are slow to re-enter the real estate
market. Townhome and condominium
projects have been particularly vulnerable
since the real estate market imploded. De­
spite that, he thinks the arts concept might
give Symphony Park an edge.
Ironically, among the projects to falter
elsewhere is a residential development in
Las Vegas, also planned around a perform­
ing arts center and also named Symphony
Park. Groundbreaking has been pushed
back several times, and it's now looking at
a 2017 start date, according to Sam Glad­
stein, a vice president with Newland Com­
munities in Las Vegas.
Locally, some observers wonder if
homebuyers will pay upwards of $1 mil­
lion for townhomes with a Rockville ad­
dress. Bruce Lemieux, a real estate agent
who tracks county sales on mocorealestate.
com, says units at the top end of the coun­
ty's residential market have taken the lon­
gest to sell and have required the steepest
price reductions since .the market bust. He
points to townhomes by the same archi­
tectural fum that have been languishing,
some for a couple of years, at an arguably
better address: E'Y.A:s Park Potomac, a short
drive from Strathmore.
"The upper end of the market is just
tough:' he says. "The big draw
will
be quality
of life and location-near the Red Line. The
Strathmore membership is a nice gimmick,
but I don't think that will be a big draw."
But Symphony Park's Kaplan
thinks
the tie­
in with Strathmore
Will
be a big draw. "The
Music Center at Strathmore is an architec­
. tural and cultural jewel of this region, and
we believe residents
will
be drawn to the
incredibly diverse and wide ranging pro­
grams at Strathmore, be it a summer out­
door concert or a Friday night jam session
in the Mansion:' •
, >"
today and in the future."
Derek Hyra, associate professor ofurban
affairs and planning at Virginia Tech, sees
Symphony Park as part of a trend that start­
ed in dilapidated cities across the country.
"It's part of a type of branding to attract a
certain type of person;' he says.
There likely.vill be fewer parking woes,
a lower crime rate and less urban grit than
in places like
D.Cs
Penn Quarter or even
Georgetown. And proximity to Metro's
Grosvenor-Strathmore station is a big sell­
ing point, according to observers.
However, WorkScore, a website that rates
neighborhoods on how easy it is to walk
to the store, bank, Metro and other pub­
lic places, gives the Strathmore Avenue and
Rockville Pike address just a 68 out of a pos­
sible 100 points, meaning it's "somewhat
walkable:' Washington's Dupont Circle, by
. contrast, has a 98 walk score.
That means that although residents will
be able to amble over to the Metro, a Bal­
timore Symphony Orchestra performance,
afternoon tea, or a yoga class at Strathmore,
they'll likely drive to the grocery store, the
mall, the country club or to a restaurant for
dinner.
But McLaurin envisions an even more
walkable neighborhood around Sympho­
ny Park as the county's 20-year plan for
the \tVhite Flint area gets underway with
its "smart growth" mix of housing, restau­
rants and shops along the Rockville Pike
area just north of the concert hall.
"It's going to get more dense and a
lot taller," McLaurin says. "There's going
to be more living and walking along this
corridor!'
Stephen Melman of the National Asso­
ciation of Home Builders says developing
an arts community is a particularly smart
gambit in Montgomery County, where the
novelty may distinguish Symphony Park
from its competition and help attract buy­
ers among the county's affluent and highly
educated population.
.
"Everybody's competing;' Melman says.
Christine MacDonald is the author of
Green,
Inc.: An Environmental Insider Reveals How
a Good Cause Has Gone Bad
(The Lyons
Press,
2008),
She lives in Washington, D.C.,
and has written for
The Boston Globe, Los
Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News
and
The Nation.
To comment on this story,
e-mail comments@bethesdamagazine.com.
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SYMPHONY
PARK
STRATHMORE
AT
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 PDF to HTML - Convert PDF files to HTML files
T&E
Item
1
March 28, 2011
STRATHMORE®
~
Supplementary Packet
March 24, 2011
Michael Faden, Esquire
Senior Legislative Attorney
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue, 5th floor
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Re:
Strathmore Music Center
Bill 6-10, Noise Control - Arts
and Entertainment Activities
Dear Mr. Faden:
At your request, this letter responds to Edward Lijewski's letter of March 4,20
II.
Strathmore is very familiar with Mr. Lijewski, and has worked to resolve his issues with
Strathmore since 2002.
Mr. Lijewski first contacted Strathmore in 2002 when the NIH Outdoor Movies series
brought people, noise and traffic to his neighborhood. Over the next several years, Strathmore
worked carefully with him to mitigate parking on neighboring streets. We were, for the most
part, quite successful directing traffic to the Metro garage. He posted big signs (which we
replaced with more professional ones and donated to him) at the entrance to Garrett Park
Estates (Jol1y Way) telling people they could not park there for Strathmore events. The police
have advised him that public streets are for public use, so they could not tow or ticket cars
parked there.
Strathmore also has engaged in efforts to lower the volume of its outdoor events and
no longer hosts the NIH outdoor movies. Strathmore has received virtually no calls
complaining about outdoor event noise since 2007.
Strathmore believes it is following the correct and legal procedure to modify the
County Noise Ordinance by proposing a very specific time, volume and date "box" for our
mission-related free outdoor popular programming on our property serving thousands of
residents. We have worked diligently with the developers of the townhouses to be sure future
residents will be fully advised and aware of the programming on the lawn. The only thing
that has changed, now that volume is lower and curfews are enforced, is the on-site presence
of new residents directly adjacent to the amphitheatre area.
Strathmore Hall Foundation, Inc.
530l Tuckemlal1 Lane· North Bethesda, Maryland 20852-3385
301.581.5200 • 30l,58I.5201
FAX
arts@strathmore.org • www.strathmore.org
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Michael Faden, Esquire
Senior Legislative Attorney
Montgomery County Council
March 24, 2011
Page No. Two
To do nothing about the CUlTent County noise ordinance would mean that Strathmore
would have to curtail all significant outdoor activity since the CUlTent noise generated by
Rockville Pike already exceeds the existing noise ordinance levels virtually everyday of the
year. Strathmore is not proposing to bring in rock concerts. Strathmore carefully seeks to
attract audiences able to be accommodated in existing parking garage capacities at Metro. We
do not plan to restart the outdoor movies. We have designed the outdoor space so we can use
highly directional speaker systems capable of restricting any acoustic footprint for amplified
sound to the "oval" on the site. This is new technology we will purchase to continue our
responsible neighbor policy.
We believe it is long since past time to review antiquated County Noise Ordinance
standards for our increasingly dense populations throughout the County. As an example on
the Pike, the recent Council approval of the White Flint Sector Plan with its clearly urban
building designs, mixed use intent, and expanded transportation network only half a mile to
our north reflects a reality that is not consistent with current noise strictures.
We have been transparent in voicing our concerns while working with the County to
bring about an accommodation to the current law that fits all parties. We sought every
Council member's opinion in individual meetings; cooperated with and utilized the
professional noise studies conducted by DEP; hired our own acoustic engineer to develop new
standards; drafted a responsible self-limiting "box" oftime, dates and sound levels to allow
programming while minimizing acoustic impact; and met with County staff, DEP, and a
member of the Noise Advisory Board...Moreover, we have spent several years in discussions
with the adjacent developers (first Centex and then Symphony Park as the affected party), the
County Council members and their staffs, Executive staff and the County Attorney's office,
our own Board, and our own Strathmore Community Advisory Committee of neighboring
citizens and community groups (which has existed since 2003 for exactly this reason).
Mr. Lijewski's solution to allow only unamplified (acoustic) or extremely limited
sound amplification for music in an outdoor venue is not a solution; it would be the death of a
28 year history of free, public outdoor music on the Strathmore Arts Center property.
Unamplified sound, especially against the background traffic noise of the Pike, will be audible
only to a very small audience. No sustainable model for sponsorship or tickets sales can
cover an event of that character. That is not a reasonable solution.
EP:cm
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T&E Item 1
March 28, 2011
Worksession 2
MEMORANDUM
TO:
FROM:
'*
Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee
Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
SUBJECT:
Worksession 2:
Bil16-10, Noise Control
Arts and Entertainment Activities
Bill 6-10, Noise Control - Arts and Entertainment Activities, sponsored by
Councilmember EIrich and then-Council President Floreen, was introduced on March 2,2010. A
public hearing was held on March 23, at which the only speakers were representatives of
Strathmore Hall Foundation and the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (see testimony,
©12-15). The first Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee
worksession was held on November 22, at which the Committee recommended enactment of this
Bill with comprehensive amendments, summarized and discussed below. The Bill with
Committee amendments had been scheduled for Council action on November 30, but was
dropped from the agenda to allow Councilmembers to resolve outstanding issues.
Original Bill
As introduced, Bill 6-10 would set different noise level standards for
certain seasonal arts and entertainment activities.
It
would also exempt noise levels created by
those seasonal arts and entertainment activities, up to a higher maximum level, from being
treated as a noise disturbance. In addition, a potential homebuyer would be notified about
certain seasonal arts and entertainment activities near those areas.
As introduced, this Bill would allow a performing arts facility (such as, but not limited to,
Strathmore Hall) which conducts at least 5 outdoor arts and entertainment activities (such as
concerts or films) each year to, at its option, annually file a noise mitigation plan with the
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DEP would review but would not approve the
plan. Having filed the plan, the facility would then be subject to a higher maximum noise level
from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during April through October - 75 dBA versus the normal 65 (daytime)
or 55 (nighttime) levels that apply to residential areas.! If an arts facility conducts fewer than 5
outdoor events, under the current law
2
it can apply for an event-by-event waiver, which is good
for up to 30 days, and would not have to file a noise mitigation plan.
[For a description of the various decibel levels, see ©19.
2See County Code §3IB-II(a).
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Urban district redraft On November 17, attorneys William Kominers and Robert
Brewer, on behalf respectively of the Bethesda and Silver Spring urban districts and Chambers
of Commerce and the Strathmore Hall Foundation, submitted a redraft to Bill 6-10's sponsors.
This redraft:
• limited the scope of the seasonal activities provision to any "qualifying performing
arts facility" that is County-owned or -operated and designated by a Council
resolution after a public hearing, and deleted the "more than 5 performances"
requirement;
• inserted a new provision, applying only to the urban districts (currently Bethesda,
Silver Spring, and Wheaton), which would essentially waive applicable noise limits
for any "permissible performance location" recommended by the urban district
advisory or corporation board and designated by the County Executive; and
• deleted the home buyer notice requirement.
The Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee reviewed this
redraft at its worksession on November 22 and recommended enactment with further
amendments, described below.
Issues/2010 Committee amendments
1) Should this increase in the applicable noise limits at specific performing arts
facilities be allowed?
The first section of this Bill (from ©3, line 52 to ©5, line 97) applies only to specific
County-owned or -operated performing arts facilities designated by the County Executive (see
©3, lines 33-42). (The Bill had originally required designation by Council resolution after a
public hearing.) This provision is intended mainly to cover Strathmore Hall, but
it
could also
apply to Black Rock Center for the Arts and other facilities. To qualify, the facility management
must file and annually update a noise mitigation plan.
The management of Strathmore Hall Foundation (see testimony, ©12-13) in particular is
concerned that occupants of the new housing development (Symphony Park at Strathmore) being
built nearby would file a noise complaint during any outdoor performance event (concert or film)
which exceeds the relatively low 55 dBA nighttime noise limits. In their view, the ability to
apply for an event or 30-day waiver, which the current law allows, is not sufficient because they
need to schedule outdoor events and sign performers well in advance. They also argue that the
upper noise limit in this Bill, 75 dBA, is not excessive and would not offend nearby residents.
The description of decibel levels on ©19, furnished by Strathmore Hall Foundation, compares 75
dBA to an "average radio or vacuum cleaner", or, we would say, loud enough to notice. Under
the County noise law, these measurements are taken at the property line, not at the noise source.
While DEP, the County's noise control enforcement agency, has received few complaints
about concerts or other seasonal outdoor entertainment activities, that doesn't necessarily mean
that the public does not object to them. DEP has received few if any complaints about outdoor
events at Strathmore recently, but in 2006 residents of nearby neighborhoods vociferously
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objected to noise from several outdoor movies. Strathmore management since revised its
outdoor operations to reduce the resulting noise levels.
The County Noise Control Advisory Board (see memo, ©16-17) did not support this Bill
and instead proposed that Strathmore Hall Foundation use the long-term (up to 3 years) noise
waiver process allowed under the current law
3.
This process includes public notice and a
hearing. In Council staffs view, a 3-year waiver period is too long for these facilities.
Committee recommendation: Accept the concept of relaxing the applicable noise limits
during certain hours and times of year at designated qualifying performing arts facility sites.
2)
If
a relaxed noise level standard is allowed, should DEP be required to approve a
noise mitigation plan?
As introduced, Bill 6-10 only requires the applicant to submit a noise mitigation plan,
which DEP would review but not approve or reject. The 3-year waiver process which the Noise
Control Advisory Board prefers does not expressly require the applicant to submit a noise
mitigation plan, although DEP could require one as a condition of approving any waiver.
Council staff had recommended that DEP be directed to report to the Council and public
on the adequacy and effectiveness of each noise mitigation plan before the Executive designates
a site, and to advise each facility operator at any time if the plan it submitted does not take full
advantage of reasonably available noise control technology.
Committee recommendation: do not require DEP to evaluate the adequacy and
effectiveness of each noise mitigation plan before the Executive designates a site, but direct DEP
to annually advise the Council and Executive whether the prescribed noise levels remain
appropriate for each site and on the extent of compliance with them (see ©5, lines 93-97).
3)
Should a blanket waiver of the applicable noise limits in the urban districts be
allowed?
The new section of the Kominers-Brewer redraft (from ©5, line 98 to ©7, line 160)
applies to the urban districts (currently Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Wheaton). The redraft
would effectively waive applicable noise limits for any "permissible performance location"
nominated by the urban district advisory or corporation board and designated by the County
Executive without a public hearing (see ©3, lines 28-31).4 To qualify, the location's
management must file and annually update a noise information report, which is less rigorous
than the noise information plan required for a County-operated site.
Urban district representatives argued that downtown residents and visitors expect more
noise and often seek
it
out, and realize that higher decibel levels from music or theater
performances are part of the downtown "scene". DEP staff say that few if any noise complaints
3See County Code §31 B·l1 (b).
4Because this proposal only applies to outdoor arts and entertainment activities, it would not affect the Fillmore in
Silver Spring or any other indoor entertainment venue.
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have been received for downtown entertainment activities. But for another view, see the letter
from a County resident on
©
18 protesting Silver Spring outdoor concerts.
The operating theory behind this provision is essentially that the urban district
managements will not want to offend their residents and customers, and thus will not accept
noise levels beyond what is generally acceptable in a downtown area. While this statement may
be generally valid, the draft relies on a rather open-ended process that includes no defined role
for either DEP's noise enforcement staff or the public. It also waives all current County noise
limits and imposes no upper noise limit at all, so if an overly enthusiastic urban district allows an
overly enthusiastic concert promoter or bar to book the loudest rock band available and let them
play through the night, the nearby residents would have no statutory recourse (although it would
not preclude any affected person from filing a nuisance action in court).
Council staff recommended that the Committee sever this provision from the rest of Bill
6-10 and introduce it as a separate Bill with its own public hearing. Because current urban
district activities have generated few if any noise complaints, in our view this provision appeared
to be a solution in search of a problem, which needs more public exposure before receiving
serious Council consideration.
Committee recommendation:
accept the concept of shifting responsibility for noise
levels at certain outdoor performance sites in urban districts to the urban district after the
Executive designates the site as a permissible performance location. Tighten up this authority by
requiring 30 days' advance public notice before a site is nominated or a performance approved,
clarifying that the Executive can revoke a site designation at any time, and require the urban
district board to report annually on its experience with this authority and to forward each noise
complaint it receives to DEP.
4) What if any disclosure should residents near a performing arts facility receive?
Bill 6-10 requires the seller of any residential property within 300 yards of a covered
performing arts facility to notify any buyer that seasonal arts and entertainment activities at the
facility would be subject to special noise limits (see ©8, lines 162-183). At the hearing the
Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) objected to this added disclosure
requirement, partly because
it
would add to many other required notices recently inserted in
County law (see GCAAR testimony, ©14-15).
This kind of pre-sale notice has another flaw: it's not clear when it would be triggered
because a performing arts facility could begin an outdoor concert program at any time, and home
sellers would not necessarily know when the facility has applied for the special noise standards
under this Bill.
As an alternative form of notice among others, GCAAR suggested directing the
performing arts facility to notify surrounding homeowners. However, this would not reach
prospective homebuyers before they buy in that area. GCAAR also suggested that new
homebuyers in the Strathmore Hall area be given a notice tailored to that facility, or some
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