T&E Item 2
June 27, 2011
Worksession
MEMORANDUM
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee
0('Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
Worksession: Expedited Bill 16-11, Noise Control- Urban Areas
Expedited Bill 16-11, Noise Control - Urban Areas, sponsored by the Council President
at the request of the County Executive, was introduced on May 18, 2011. A public hearing was
held on June 14 (see testimony, ©12-27). While the County Noise Control Advisory Board
(NCAB) did not testify at this hearing, they submitted a comprehensive memo (see ©9-11)
which raised many significant issues.
Summary Expedited Bill 16-11 is the Executive's revision of part of Bill 6-10 which the
Committee deleted from that Bill at its worksession on March 28. The Council enacted Bill 6­
10, as amended, on May 18. See the Executive's memo on ©6 and the OMB fiscal impact
statement on ©9-1
O.
Bill 16-11 would allow higher noise level standards for certain outdoor arts and
entertainment activities in specified urban noise areas. Essentially, under this Bill outdoor
entertainment conducted in an urban district or other designated urban noise area could range up
to 75 dBA from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., at the edge of the urban district or noise area property line,
rather than the current standards of 65 dBA during the day and 55 dBA at night in residential
areas or 67 and 62 dBA in non-residential areas, measured at the nearest property line.
Noise measurement Stan Edwards ofDEP helpfully provided the following explanation
of the dBA method of measuring sound, which one person had questioned:
Sound can be measured using several different "weightings" but the A-weighting is used
universally (as far as I know) in community noise monitoring. The excerpt below is from
the background section of a report done by the Federal Transit Administration on noise
from transit systems. I think it has a nice explanation why measuring in dBA is
appropriate:
The basic noise unit for transit noise is the A-weighted Sound Level. It describes
a receiver's noise at any moment in time and is read directly from noise­
monitoring equipment, with the "weighting switch" set on "A." The letter "A"
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indicates that the sound has been filtered to reduce the strength of very low and
very high-frequency sounds. Without this A-weighting, noise-monitoring
equipment would respond to events people cannot hear, events such as high­
frequency dog whistles and low-frequency seismic disturbances. On the average,
each A-weighted sound level increase of 10 decibels corresponds to an
approximate doubling of SUbjective loudness. Other frequency weighting such as
B, C, and linear weights have been used to filter sound for specific applications.
A-weighted sound levels are adopted here as the basic noise unit because:
(1)
they
can be easily measured, (2) they approximate our ear's sensitivity to sounds of
different frequencies, (3) they match attitudinal-survey tests of annoyance better
than do other basic units, (4) they have been in use since the early 1930s, and (5)
they are endorsed as the proper basic unit for environmental noise by nearly every
agency concerned with community noise throughout the world.
If you are interested in the full report (all 261 pages of it!) you can find it at
http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA Noise and Vibration Manual.pdf.
Also see the County Civic Federation testimony on ©23-24 for data on and examples of
noise measurements at specific decibel levels.
Policy and Legislative Issues
The central policy issue posed by this Bill, in Council staff's view, is:
how should the
County noise law balance the legitimate interests of urban residents· and urban
entertainment providers?
The issues discussed below all revolve around this core notion of
balance.
Before turning to the specific legislative issues this Bill raises, the Committee should
explore two general policy issues:
What are the legitimate interests ofurban residents regarding environmental noise?
Proponents of this Bill argue that urban residents both expect and (at least in some cases)
desire a higher background noise level than other County residents. That may be true for some
residents, but clearly is not the whole story. As the Noise Control Advisory Board observed:
The NCAB agrees that urban areas have a higher level of background noise, but strongly
questions the statement that "residents and occupants of those areas generally expect
higher levels of noise." The NCAB recognizes that urban areas have a complex
demographic comprised of families with children, "empty nesters" seeking to downsize
and be close to amenities, residents who have migrated to transit oriented developments
for convenience and economic necessity, as well as residents who enjoy being close to
entertainment centers.
2
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As the NCAB and other commentators pointed out, not all these residents (and potential
residents) will easily tolerate the hifher levels of noise that proponents of this Bill assume should
be accepted as a matter of course. While, as with many other social issues, no one can have
their way all the time, many of the various types of urban dwellers that NCAB described will not
expect (or put up with) the relatively unrestricted noise levels that this Bill, as introduced, would
allow? In Council staffs view, the success of "smart growth" land use patterns will depend, in
large part, on the attractiveness of housing and living in the downtown areas to a wide variety of
potential condominium buyers. While a lively, Adams Morgan-type environment may appeal to
some potential buyers,
it
will certainly turn off others. As a matter of economic development
policy, which risk does the County want to take?
A recent email exchange between an aggrieved Bethesda resident and the Bethesda
Urban Partnership (BUP) management on ©28-29 illustrates the potential for urban district
management (let alone private parties), essentially ungoverned by external controls, to ignore
reasonable noise level expectations of neighborhood residents. (Also see the
Gazette
article on
©33 and the detailed letter from another resident of the same complex on ©30-32.) While
proponents of this Bill prefer to play down these complaints as isolated incidents, in Council
staffs view they are likely to be more common in the future if the looser (in some cases,
effectively non-existent) level of regulation allowed under this Bill prevails. And, of course, to
affected residents, it's irrelevant how often this kind of incident happens; their personal peace
and quiet has been seriously violated, and they are not ready to sacrifice it to some supposedly
greater purpose.
What types ofentertainment providers does the County want to encourage?
As we discuss further below, this policy question is how broadly the County wants to
encourage outdoor entertainment in urban areas. Proponents of this Bill generally point to the
County's need to sponsor or foster major events, such as street festivals or concerts. However,
the Bill is not limited to events put on by public or quasi-public organizations, such as the Silver
Spring Urban District or BUP.
It
was intended to include events sponsored by commercial
organizations, such as the development firm that owns Ellsworth Drive in Silver Spring (which,
the Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce informed Council staff, puts on over 100 concerts a
year). But it also covers bars or restaurants that provide outdoor music or broadcast indoor
music to the outside, as long as they are located in an urban district or other designated urban
noise area.
3
ISome proponents of this Bill prefer to use the term "sound" (see, for example, the Silver Spring Urban District
Advisory Board testimony on ©16). In our view, this verges on euphemism. The County noise control law, in
County Code §31 B-2(k), defines "noise" as "sound, created or controlled by human activity, from one or more
sources, heard by an individual". In standard usage, noise means a loud, unpleasant, or unwanted sound. In other
words, one person's sound can be another's noise.
2As we discuss later, the NCAB memo on ©12 pointed out that, if the 75 dBA noise limit in this Bill is measured as
the urban district boundary as the Bill directs,
the law would effectively allow noise levels up to
99
dBA or higher
inside the urban district:
"Noise levels at the source of99 dBA could measure 75 dBA at 320 feet from the district
boundary line." 99 dBA is just under the 100 dBA emitted by a tractor or power saw at a distance of 6 feet.
3
The clause which broadens the scope of this Bill to urban noise areas designated by a municipality (see ©3, line
34), was inserted to let Gaithersburg allow a restaurant in Kentlands to offer outdoor live music.
3
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Under ©2-3, lines 27-30, an outdoor arts and entertainment activity is defined by where it
occurs, not who presents it. The term "arts and entertainment activity" was inserted in the
County noise law by previous Bill 6-10.
4
It covers certain types of activities, such as a play,
film, music, or dance, but does not limit who presents that activity. Whether it includes, to use
the example cited by the NCAB, a broadcast of a sports event such as a football game or soccer
match, is not completely clear, although we doubt that those events qualify as "artistic or creative
work" as that phrase is used in the law.
Under Bill 16-11, an outdoor activity also includes an indoor event broadcast to the
outdoors (see ©2-3, lines 28-30). This would allow the Fillmore concert hall, for example, to
broadcast a concert held inside to the street outside without violating current noise level
standards.
With this broad policy analysis as background, we turn to the more specific legislative
issues this Bill raises.
1)
Is
this Bill necessary? If this Bill is not enacted, several other provisions of current
law could be used to allow more flexible noise standards for outdoor arts and entertainment
activities:
• DEP waiver
The sponsors of any event or series of events could file an application under
County Code §31B-ll(a) for a temporary waiver of the applicable noise limits with the
County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which enforces the County
noise law. DEP could approve a waiver, after at least 10 days' notice to the public, if
"the noise the event will create or cause in excess of the limits established under this
Chapter is offset by the benefits of the event to the public." DEP would set the
allowable noise limits when it approves the waiver; they could be higher than 75 dBA
but would be measured at the property line rather than further away.
• County facility limits
The Council enacted Bill 6-10 in May to allow County-owned or
-operated outdoor performing arts facilities designated by the County Executive to meet
higher noise limits (75 dBA, measured at the recei ving property) from April through
October.
5
This could cover the urban noise areas the County owns, such as Veterans
Plaza in Silver Spring, but not those on private property. And the closer measurement
of noise limits would not offer the same degree of flexibility as this Bill does.
Neither of these provisions goes as far as this Bill. . Using the statutory waiver process
would create much more work for both event sponsors and DEP, even though in our view DEP
could issue a long-term but not permanent waiver for, say, concerts held on Ellsworth Drive.
But the waiver process does allow DEP and the public to focus on each separate event or type of
event and, in the case of recurring events, evaluate how well the law was complied with and the
effects of a waiver on nearby residents.
4County Code §31 B-2:
Arts and entertainment activity means a perfonnance of artistic or creative work, such as a play, film,
music, or dance, which is readily accessible to the public, whether or not admission is charged. Arts and
entertainment activity includes the time necessary to set up and remove any structure or equipment used
in the activity.
5
A "clean copy" of the operative provision of Bill 6-10 is shown on
©34.
4
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Council staff recommendation: explore whether a combination of Executive
designation for public events and temporary waivers for private parties would work better than
the blanket area-wide waivers allowed under this Bill.
. 2) Do the legislative policy amendments in the Bill fairly reflect the desired balance
between residents and entertainment providers?
Critics of this Bill focused, along with its operational details, on the statement on ©2,
lines 7-9, that residents and occupants of urban areas "generally expect higher levels of noise".
As the NCAB pointed out, this is at best a gross generalization, and it ignores the preferences of
many if not most urban residents. Similarly, at least one resident challenged the assertion on
lines 12-16 that outdoor arts and entertainment activities reduce crime; Council staff has not been
cited any empirical evidence to back up that statement.
Council staff recommendation: rather than quibble endlessly about each assertion,
delete all amendments on ©2 to the current law's declaration of policy. They are not essential
for this Bill to pass or to stand up to any court challenge; in fact, these kinds of statements often
backfire during court reviews of County laws.
3) Which outdoor arts and entertainment activities should higher noise levels apply
to?
"Outdoor arts and entertainment activity" is defined on
©2-3,
lines
27-30.
As previously
noted, the term does not limit who provides the activity. To narrow the scope of this definition
in ways that resolve the problems discussed in the policy issues part of this memo, two
amendments are advisable.
Council staff recommendation: revise the definition of "outdoor arts and entertainment
activity" to:
• require case-by-case DEP approval before noise from an activity conducted indoors
that exceeds current allowable noise levels can be broadcast outside. This will
prevent routine or continuous broadcasting of loud indoor sounds to the outside,
whether by businesses or government agencies. This can be done by inserting after
broadcast on line 28: with the Department's approval.
• exclude bars and restaurants (holders of alcoholic beverage licenses) from the scope
of any blanket waiver. This can be done by inserting on line
30:
Outdoor arts and
entertainment activity does not include any activity conducted
by
or at aI'ly business
that holds a license to serve or sell alcoholic beverages.
4) Which "urban noise areas" should higher noise levels be allowed in?
As introduced, Bill 16-11 applies higher noise limits to an "urban noise area". This term
is defined (see
©3,
lines
32-37)
as a "definable area" that is either located in a County urban
district (currently Bethesda, Silver Spring, or Wheaton), located in and designated by a
municipality, or designated by the Executive as suitable for outdoor arts and entertainment
activities. The area must also be either a space designed and programmed for events or a
5
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publicly-owned space in a commercial area and not next to a single-family residential property
(see ©3, lines 38-46).
Some critics of this Bill suggested that higher noise limits might be appropriate in one or
more "core areas" in an urban district, but should not apply in the entire urban district. Rather
than try to specifically define such geographic areas, Council staff suggests two other
modifications to the Bill's criteria for "urban noise areas".
a)
Bordering single-family areas
In its testimony (see ©25), the Garrett Park Estates ­
White Flint Park Citizens' Association expressed concern about the compatibility of higher noise
limits in the White Flint area (which could be either designated by the Executive or soon become
an urban district) with the single-family neighborhoods around the Sector Plan area. The
Association recommended that the restriction which the Bill applies to publicly-owned spaces
that it not be located next to a single-family residential property - be applied as well to the
private spaces. Council staff concurs.
Council staff recommendation:
reconfigure lines 38-46 so that the exclusion on lines
45-46 also applies to the spaces defined in lines 39-41.
b)
Urban district designation
Under lines 35-37, for the higher noise limits to apply to an
area that is not located in an urban district, the Executive must designate it in the County
Register as suitable for outdoor entertainment activities. This is parallel to the similar
designation requirement for County-owned or -operated performing arts facilities in Bill 6-10.
Logically, the same requirement should apply in the urban districts; this would further define,
and avoid questions over, the private spaces covered in lines 39-41.
Council staff recommendation:
insert after is on line 39: designated by the County
ExeC:lltive<:is suitable for outdoor arts and entertainmentactivities,
6
5) What, if any, higher noise limits should apply
in
urban noise areas? Where
should that noise be measured?
As the NCAB noted:
If the proposed acceptable noise level is increased to 75 dBA at the urban district
boundary from the current acceptable noise levels for non-residential areas of 67
dBA (day time) and 62 dBA (night time), the NCAB is very concerned about the
potential noise levels emanating from the source which could be several hundred
feet from the measurement and enforcement boundary. Noise levels at the source
of 99 dBA could measure 75 dBA at 320 feet from the district boundary line.
Noise levels in excess of 99dBA closer than 320 feet would be a violation of the
ordinance. High noise levels within the urban district could impact the quality of
life and health of the residents within.
6This Bill should also clarify, as Bill
6-10
did, that the Executive can revoke a designation at any time by publishing
the revocation in the County Register.
6
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In other words, as this Bill is drafted, when the noise is measured at the boundary of an
urban district (see ©4, lines 61-65), the effective noise level allowed at any given place inside
the urban district is virtually unlimited. This effect is less acute in urban noise areas that are not
located in urban districts because there the noise is measured at the property boundary of the
urban noise area, which is likely to be a smaller area.
To lessen the impact of this provision, two approaches are possible:
• reduce the allowable limit from 75 dBA to a lower level;
• measure the noise closer to its source.
At this point, Council staff is not ready to suggest a specific lower noise level; that would
require more empirical data than we have available now, and probably some field testing. But
we can recommend that the noise from outdoor arts and entertainment activities in urban districts
be measured at a closer point, the nearest residential property. That would give some leeway to
urban districts but still recognize the legitimate interests of nearby residents. However, it would
not accomplish the goal of the Garrett Park Estates - White Flint Park Citizens' Association,
which urged (see ©25) that this Bill should not allow any violation of the current noise standards
for single-family residential areas.
Council staff recommendation:
on ©4, line 65, replace outer boundary of the urban
district with residential property.
6) What other operational limits should apply to the use of higher noise limits in
urban noise areas?
For example, as the NCAB asked on ©1O, should the higher noise limits apply only
during summer months (as those under Bill 6-10 do), or on weekends? Should the duration of
any event using the higher limits be restricted to, for example, 3 hours, which is long enough for
any film or single musical performance?
Council staff does not recommend any of these alternatives because, at best, they would
be palliative rather than curative
that is, they would temporarily alleviate objectionable
conditions without preventing or resolving them.
7) What if any further enforcement and monitoring measures would be necessary to
cope with higher urban noise limits?
a)
DEP
enforcement
Some critics such as the County Civic Federation (see testimony,
©22) suggested that, since DEP often seems unable or unwilling to monitor after-hours or
weekend events because of staff or overtime limits, the nominally applicable noise limits are less
likely to be observed and enforced. One solution may be to authorize the urban districts to use
their funds to supplement DEP's enforcement capabilities - that is, to authorize the urban
districts to transfer funds to DEP for that purpose.
Council staff recommendation:
amend Bill 16-11 to authorize the urban districts to
transfer funds as appropriated to DEP to enforce noise requirements in those districts.
7
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b)
Police Department enforcement
At least one critic (see letter, ©30) alleged that
County police don't always understand their role in enforcing the noise laws. This may be due in
part to an ambiguity in the current noise law. The current law, §31B-12(a), says:
The Department (DEP) must enforce this Chapter. The County Executive may delegate
in writing the authority to enforce parts of this Chapter to the Police Department or any
other Executive agency.
However, since the Police Department would be already authorized by Code §35-3(b) to
enforce the noise law, the delegation authority in §31B-12(a) is confusing and unnecessary.
Council
staff recommendation: clarify §31B-12(a) as follows:
The Department al'ld the
Polic~
Department must enforce this Chapter. The County
Executive may delegate in writing the authority to enforce parts of this Chapter to [[the
Police Department or]] any other Executive [[agency]] Department or Office.
This packet contains:
Expedited Bill 16-11
Legislative Request Report
Memo from County Executive
Fiscal impact statement
Noise Control Advisory Board memo
Public hearing testimony
Proponents
Opponents
Selected correspondence
Gazette news article
Section 31 B-6A (from Bill 6-10), "clean copy"
Circle
#
1
5
6
7
9
12
22
28
33
34
F:\LAW\BILLS\1116 Noise Control· Urban Arcas\T&E Mcmo.Doc
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Expedited Bill No.
16-11
Concerning: Noise Control - Urban
Areas
Revised: 5-13-11
Draft No. 3
Introduced:
May 18, 2011
Expires:
November 18, 2012
Enacted: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Executive: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Effective: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Sunset Date: _N'-'-o:..\n,.,."e'-_ _ _ _ __
Ch. _ _ Laws of Mont. Co. _ __
I
COUNTY COUNCIL
FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
By: Council President at the Request of the County Executive
AN
EXPEDITED ACT
to:
(1)
set different noise level standards for certain outdoor arts and entertainment
activities in certain urban noise areas; and
(2)
generally amend the County noise control law.
By amending
Montgomery County Code
Chapter 31B, Noise Control
Sections 31B-l, 31B-2, and 31B-5
By adding:
Chapter 31B, Noise Control
Section 31 B-6B
Boldface
Underlining
[Single boldface brackets]
Double underlining
[[Double boldface brackets]]
* * *
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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Expedited Bill 16-11
1
Sec.I. Sections 3IB-I, 3IB-2, and 3IB-5 are amended, and Section 3IB­
6B is added, as follows:
3IB-I.
(
a)
2
3
4
5
6
7
Declaration of policy.
The County Council finds that
ill
ill
excessive noise hanns public health and welfare and impairs
enjoyment of property;
urban areas have
~
higher level of background noise from
8
multiple sources, and residents and occupants of those areas
generally expect higher levels of noise;
9
10
11
12
ill
(1)
arts and entertainment activities contribute to the public health
and welfare and the local economy; and
outdoor arts .and entertainment activities provide multiple
public benefits, including community engagement, cultural arts
awareness and enjoyment, crime reduction, and increased
security, while creating spillover economic activity for area
businesses and generally enhancing quality of life.
13
14
15
16
17
The intent of this Chapter is to control noise sources to protect public
health and welfare and to allow the peaceful enjoyment of property
while pennitting outdoor arts and entertainment activities in certain
circumstances. This Chapter must be liberally construed to carry out
this intent.
18
19
20
21
22
23
*
3IB-2.
Definitions.
*
*
24
25
In this Chapter, the following words and phrases have the following
meanmgs:
26
*
*
*
27
28
Outdoor arts and entertainment activity
means an arts or entertainment
activity that is conducted outdoors,
QL
if it is conducted indoors, is broadcast onto
-0F:\LAW\BILLS\1116 Noise - Urban Areas\1116 Urban Noise Bill 3.Doc
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EXPEDITED BILL
No. 16-11
29
30
f!
public space, including
f!
public or private road, that is intended and used for
outdoor perfonnance or assembly.
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
*
ill
ill
ill
ill
*
*
Urban noise area
means
f!
definable area that is:
located in an urban district created under Chapter 68A;
located in and designated
.!2y
f!
municipality, or
if located elsewhere, designated
.!2y
the County Executive as
suitable for outdoor arts and entertainment activities
Executive Order published in the County Register; and
III
an
ili.)
either:
ill
a space that is accessible to the public and designed and
programmed for perfonnances, events, or recreation at which
outdoor arts and entertainment activities can be conducted; or
40
41
42
43
44
45
ill
f!
publicly owned plaza, right-of-way, or open space that:
®
@
is adjacent to or confronts property used for commercial
or mixed use; and
is not adjacent to and does not confront any property that
is used for single-family residential use.
46
47
48
31B-S.
(a)
Noise level and noise disturbance violations.
Maximum allowable noise levels.
(1)
49
50
Except as otherwise provided
III
Section 31B-6(a), 31B-6A,
31B-6B, and 31B-8, a person must not cause or pennit noise
levels that exceed the following levels:
51
52
53
54
31B-6B.
*
in
Noise standards for
arts and
;;.....;..;;;:;=
===.=.:::.
­
outdoor
-­ -­
entertainment activities
-
*
*
urban noise areas.
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EXPEDITED BILL No.
16-11
55
56
57
ill
In an urban noise area that is not located in an urban district, the noise
level and noise disturbance standards in Section 31B-5 do not apply to
any outdoor arts and entertainment activity conducted between
a.m. and
II
P.J!h,.
if the noise level from that activity at any boundary
of the property that includes the urban noise area does not exceed 75
dBA.
58
59
60
61
ili.)
In an urban noise area that is located in an urban district, the noise
level and noise disturbance standards in Section 31B-5 do not apply to
any outdoor arts and entertainment activity conducted between
II
a.m. and
II
P..J!b.
if the noise level from that activity at the nearest
outer boundary of the urban district does not exceed 75 dBA.
62
63
64
65
66
W
The noise level and noise disturbance standards in Section 31B-5
apply in each urban noise area at all other times and for all other
activities.
67
68
69
Sec. 2.
Expedited Effective Date.
70
71
72
73
74
The Council declares that this Act is necessary for the immediate protection
of the public interest. This Act takes effect on the date when it becomes law.
Approved:
Valerie Ervin, President, County Council
Approved:
Date
75
76
77
78
79
Isiah Leggett, County Executive
This is a correct copy ofCouncil action.
Date
80
Linda M. Lauer, Clerk ofthe Council
Date
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LEGISLATIVE REQUEST REPORT
Expedited Bill 16-11
Noise -Urban Areas
DESCRIPTION:
This bill would establish a new noise standard for outdoor arts and
entertainment activities occurring in core urban areas. Such activities
occurring in defined
urban noise areas
would not be subject to the
existing standards in Section 31B-5 of the County Code subject to
certain conditions. This bill is a complement to Bill 6-10, Noise
Control Arts and Entertainment Activities, which addresses these
activities at performing arts facilities.
Outdoor arts and entertainment activities provide multiple public
benefits including community engagement, cultural arts awareness
and enjoyment, crime reduction and increased security while creating
spillover economic activity for area businesses and general quality of
life enhancement. In mixed use areas, space is planned for
programming for these types of activities, yet the existing standards
in Section 31B-5 do not accommodate the noise levels generated by
many of these activities. This bill focuses on urban areas and arts
and entertainment districts, where there is generally a higher level of
background noise and a greater tolerance for noise. Creating a
unique standard for outdoor arts and entertainment activities reflects
the value of the activities to the general community, and serves to
protect public health and welfare and to allow the peaceful enjoyment
of property while permitting outdoor arts and entertainment activities
in certain circumstances.
To accommodate outdoor arts and entertainment activities in core
urban areas in order to allow these events to reasonably occur while
protecting public health and welfare and to allowing for the peaceful
enjoyment of property.
Department of Environmental Protection
PROBLEM:
GOALS AND
OBJECTIVES:
COORDINATION:
FISCAL IMPACT:
ECONOMIC
IMPACT:
EVALUATION:
EXPERIENCE
ELSEWHERE:
SOURCE OF
INFORMATION:
APPLICATION
WITHIN
MUNICIPALITIES:
PENALTIES:
Diane Schwartz Jones, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, 240­
777-2561
Class A
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OFFICE OF HIE COUNTY EXECUTIVE
Isiah Leggett
County Executive
ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND 20850
MEMORANDUM
April 26, 2011
TO:
Valerie Ervin, President
n~
County Council
Isiah Leggett
County Executi ve
FROM:
-....::::.V~
1
I
SUBJECT:
Noise Control - Arts and Entertainment Activities in Core Urban Areas
I am submitting the attached bill related to arts and entertainment activities in urban
areas for Council introduction. I am also submitting a Legislative Request Report. As outlined in my
March 21,2011 memorandum to Council regarding Bi1l6-l0, Noise Control- Arts and Entertainment
Activities, this proposed bill would complement Bi116-1O, which addresses noise levels for these same
types of activities at performing arts facilities. Separating the bills provides an opportunity for public
input on the important issue of identifying urban noise areas in which outdoor arts and entertainment
activities are intended to occur.
Outdoor arts and entertainment activities in urban areas provide mUltiple public benefits
including community engagement, cultural arts awareness and enjoyment, crime reduction and increased
security while creating spillover economic activity for businesses in the vicinity of such activities. The
attached legislation reflects the reality that these desirable activities may create noise that exceeds the
current restrictive levels in the County's noise ordinance and should be facilitated in spaces designed for
these types of activities such as public plazas, rights-of-ways, and public amenity space included in
development plans for certain zones.
In
the County's Urban Districts, where there is a reasonable
expectation of higher ambient background noise, and in the County's Arts and Entertainment Districts,
which were specifically created to facilitate arts and entertainment activities, the proposed amendment
provides for measurement of the noise level at the district boundary. At other urban noise areas that are
not in a district, the measurement would continue to be taken at the property boundary.
I believe that this modest approach to facilitating desirable outdoor arts and
entertainment activities is reasonable and supports the many benefits that result from these activities. I
appreciate your introduction of this bill on my behalf and urge the Council to adopt it as expeditiously as
possible.
I look forward to working with the Council as it cOllsiders this legislation.
cc:
Tim Firestine, Chief Administrative Officer
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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OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
Isiah Leggett
County Executive
Joseph F. Beach
Director
MEMORANDUM
May 17,2011
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
oise - Core Urban Area
Arts
and Entertainment
The purpose ofthis memorandum
is
to transmit a fiscal and economic impact statement to
the Council on the subject legislation.
LEGISLATION SUMMARY
This legislation will amend the County's Noise Control Law to set different noise standards for outdoor
arts and entertainment activities (including farmers' markets and community festivals) within defined
urban noise areas and the County's Urban Districts. Urban noise areas correspond to certain public
facility and amenity spaces, as well as otherperfonnance or event spaces specifically identified as an
urban noise area by a resolution of a municipality.
For urban noise areas within the County's Urban Districts, under this legislation the noise level and noise
disturbance standards applicable elsewhere in the County will no longer apply
to
outdoor arts and
entertainment activities conducted between 11 am and 11 pm. However, during that time, the noise level
at the Urban District boundary must not exceed 75 dBA. For other designated urban noise areas, the same
exception to the noise standards
will
apply for outdoor arts and entertainment activities conducted
between 11 am and 11 pm, but here the noise level must not exceed 75 dBA at the boundary of the urban
noise area. At all other times, the maximum a1lowable noise levels, noise disturbance standards, and
required noise measurement techniques
wil1
be the same in these areas as for other parts of the County
(e,g. noise levels to be measured at the relevant property line).
FISCAL AND ECONOMIC SUMMARY
The fiscal impact ofthis legislation is not ex,pected to result
in
additional costs to the County because
it
is
relaxing the current standard under limited circumstances; however, there coold be a possible increase
in
the number of noise complaints that have to be investigated by the Department ofEnvironmenta1
Protection.
If
that were to occur there would be a limited increase in enforcement costs. Eacb complaint
takes about 4 staffhours to investigate (including the positioning, setup. and operation of noise
monitoring equipment). and since most of the complaints triggered by this legislation are likely to occur
in connection with evening
events~
investigation ofa complaint will usually entail overtime. The average
cost would be $218 per complaint,
includin~
salary. benefits (FICA), and overtime premium for an
101 Monroe Street, 14th Floor • Rockville, Maryland 20850 • 240-777-2800
www.montgomel'ycountymd.gov
---
Office of the Director
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Valerie Ervin, President, County Council
May 17, 2011
Page
2
Environmental Health Specialist However, the potential number ofadditional noise complaints that
would
be
triggered by the proposed changes to the noise standards cannot be projected at this time and
there may actually be no increased complaints as a result ofthls legislation. While a precise total fiscal
impact of this bill cannot be determined
at
this time the table below provides a few scenarios for potential
costs that may result from the subject legislation.
Potential Fiscal Impact
CouneU
Bill XX-ll:
Noise - Core Urnan
Area Arts
and Entertainment
Number of
Complaints
10
20
30
Cost per
Complaint
218
$
218
$
218
$
FY12
2,180
$
4,360
$
6,540
$
FY13
2,180
$
4,360
$
6,540
$
FY14
2,180
$
4,360
$
6,540
$
FY15
2,180
$
4,360
$
6,540
$
FYI 6
2,180
$
4,360 $
6,540
$
FY17
2,180
4,360
6,540
Six Year
Total
13,080
$
26,160
$
39,240
$
Assumptions:
1.
No inflationary increase in personnel costs from FY13-17
2. All inspections are performed on nights and weekends and are performed on overtime
This bill
is
not expected to have a measurable economic impact on the County. However it
is intended to facilitate arts and entertainment programming in urban areas. These types ofprograms do
attract the community and visitors to the urban areas where they will dine and shop which is expected to
have an undefined positive economic impact.
The following contributed to and concurred with
this
analysis: Diane Jones, Offices of the
County Executive; Stan Edwards, Department ofEnvironmental Protection; and Mike Coveyou,
Department of Finance.
JFB:jg
c: Kathleen Boucher, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
Lisa Austin, Offices of the County Executive
Bob Hoyt, Director, Department ofEnvironmental Protection
Stan Edwards, Department ofEnvironmental Protection
Jennifer Barrett, Director, Department of Finance
Mike Coveyou, Department of Finance
John Greiner, Office ofManagement and Budget
Amy Wilson, Office ofManagement and Budget
John Cuff, Office of Management and Budget
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NOISE CONTROL ADVISORY BOARD
MEMORANDUM
June 21, 2011
TO:
Isiah Leggett
County Executive
Valerie Ervin, President
Montgomery County Council
FROM:
John Fuchs, Chair
Noise Control Advisory Board
Expedited Bill 16-11, Noise Control
Urban Areas
SUBJECT:
The Montgomery County Noise Control Advisory Board (NCAB) has reviewed
the proposed Expedited Bill 16-11, Noise Control- Urban Areas sponsored by Council President
at the request of the County Executive. Expedited Bill 16-11 would modify the existing county
noise ordinance, Montgomery County Code Chapter 31B, by allowing higher noise levels during
longer periods of the day and night within certain urban districts to accommodate outdoor arts
and entertainment activities. Furthermore, this bill redefines the distance at which noise is
measured for compliance in the urban districts, moving
it
from the receiving property line to the
urban district's exterior boundary.
The NCAB is mandated by law to advise the County Executive, County Council,
and the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on noise control issues.
Pursuant to this mandate, at its last two monthly meetings, the Board discussed several concerns
regarding Expedited Bill 16-11 and requests clarification and provides the following comments:
• The intent of this bill is unclear; it seems to remove the beneficial County Code Chapter
31 B - Noise Control protection from the thousands of residents that currently reside
within the already established urban districts. Furthermore, there is the possibility of
impacting additional residents if a non-urban area is designated an Urban Noise Area by
Executive Order. Does the County Council have an estimate of the number of county
residents that may be impacted by the changes?
• The NCAB agrees that urban areas have a higher level of background noise, but strongly
questions the statement that "residents and occupants of those areas generally expect
higher levels of noise." The NCAB recognizes that urban areas have a complex
demographic comprised of families with children, "empty nesters" seeking to downsize
and be close to amenities, residents who have migrated to transit oriented developments
for convenience and economic necessity, as well as residents who enjoy being close to
entertainment centers.
255 Rockville Pike, Suite 120 • Rockville,
Mary land
20850-2589 • 240-777-7700
www.montgomerycountymcl.gov
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Isiah Leggett and Valerie Ervin
June 21, 2011
Page 2
• The NCAB seeks clarification on the arts and entertainment venues that this bill intends
to promote. Is this bill intended for special community events or the economic benefit of
commercial entities? The language and definitions are vague and allow for broad
interpretation.
• It is unclear if the intent of this bill is to designate as an "urban noise area" the entire
urban district or a smaller geographic area, i.e. "core area" within the urban district that
would affect fewer residents.
• The definition of art and entertainment is vague and can include everything from
festivals, club music and/or the broadcasting of sporting events e.g. Monday night
football games.
• Does the definition of an urban noise area in 31B-2(b)(2) include sidewalks adjacent to
restaurants, bars and clubs thereby making it allowable for commercial establishments to
broadcast entertainment activities outside?
• There is a disparity given to single family, multi-family and mixed-use developments that
should be addressed. The urban noise area definition in 31B-2(b)(2)(B) specifically
excludes areas adjacent to single family residents but is silent on multi-family residences.
Like urban areas, multi-family dwellings share a complex demographic comprised of
families with children, senior citizens, and persons of all ages and economic
circumstances. Although some choose to live in urban areas for an enhanced lifestyle
others are economically prohibited from living elsewhere.
• If the proposed acceptable noise level is increased to 75 dBA at the urban district
boundary from the current acceptable noise levels for non-residential areas of 67 dBA
(day time) and 62 dBA (night time), the NCAB is very
com~emed
about the potential
noise levels emanating from the source which could be several hundred feet from the
measurement and enforcement boundary. Noise levels at the source of 99 dBA could
measure 75 dBA at 320 feet from the district boundary line. Noise levels in excess of
99dBA closer than 320 feet would be a violation of the ordinance. High noise levels
within the urban district could impact the quality of life and health of the residents within.
• The NCAB notes that limitations relating to time of year and days of the week e.g. June
to October, Friday to Saturday, etc. are noticeably absent from the proposed language of
this bill. Such limitations would grant some provision for night time quiet periods during
school days and the school year. The NCAB seeks clarification on this point.
It
seems that this bill makes the erroneous assumption that the residents living in
mixed-use housing and multifamily dwellings within urban districts do so to enjoy late night and
loud activities. The urban districts are made up of residents in multifamily buildings that are
comprised of adults with children, senior citizens, and persons of all ages and economic
circumstances. Although some choose to live in urban areas for an enhanced lifestyle, others
live there due to economical constraints.
The NCAB seeks clarification on the following statement in Section 2 - Expedited
Effective Date. "The Council declares that this Act is necessary for the immediate protection of
the public interest." This should be justified based upon the public comments and the Board's
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Isiah Leggett and Valerie Ervin
June 21, 2011
Page 3
comments.
It
would appear that the purpose of this bill and its expedited nature is unclear
especially when the noise health and welfare of so many county residents are at risk.
The NCAB welcomes the opportunity to attend the upcoming work session and
discuss their comments before the County moves forward with Expedited Bill 16-11. Thank you
for your attention to this matter.
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5
TESTIMONY OF DIANE SCHWARTZ JONES
ASSISTANT CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE
ON BEHALF OF COUNTY EXECUTIVE ISIAH LEGGETT IN SUPPORT OF
EXPEDITED BILL 16-11, NOISE CONTROL - URBAN AREA
June 14,2011
Good afternoon. My name is Diane Schwartz Jones. I am an Assistant Chief
Administrative Officer in the Office of the County Executive. I am pleased to provide testimony
on behalf of County Executive Isiah Leggett in favor of Bill 16-11 which will create urban noise
areas to facilitate the programming of outdoor arts and entertainment activities in urban areas on
space that is accessible to the public and designed and programmed for outdoor performances
and events.
Urban noise areas will be limited in application, location and duration. These areas are
intended to facilitate the provision of outdoor arts and entertainment programming such as
community serving summer concerts in locations created for these types of activities between the
hours of 11 am and 11 pm.
The bill will apply in the County's designated Urban Districts in Silver Spring, Bethesda,
and Wheaton, as well as in other urbanized areas as designated by the County Executive in an
Executive Order. Additionally, for municipalities that are covered by the noise ordinance, this
standard for outdoor arts and entertainment activities will apply in areas designated by such
municipalities as urban noise areas.
Outdoor arts and entertainment activities in urban areas provide mUltiple public benefits
including
community engagement, cultural arts awareness and enjoyment, crime reduction
and increased security while creating spillover economic activity for businesses
in the
vicinity of such activities. This bill reflects the reality that there is an expectation of vibrancy in
our urban areas and that such vibrancy is accompanied by increased noise levels. The
expectations and standards that apply in a suburban or rural area simply do not apply in an urban
area and it is appropriate to create a noise standard that recognizes this difference and allows for
Page 1 of2
@
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the type of arts and entertainment activities that contribute to the activity and vibrancy of an
urban area.
The new standard will apply to activities conducted in space that is accessible to the
public and designed and programmed for perfonnances and events, or on a publicly owned plaza,
right-of-way, or open space that is adjacent to or confronts property used for commercial or
mixed use that is not adjacent to and does not confront any property that is used for single-family
residential use.
The County Executive supports this modest approach to facilitating desirable outdoor arts
and entertainment activities.
It
is reasonable and allows for the many benefits that result from
these activities.
County Executive Leggett appreciates your introduction of this
bill
and urges
the Council to adopt it as expeditiously as possible. Thank: you for the opportunity to testify.
Page 2 of2
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THE
GREATER
BETHESDA-CHEVY CHASE
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1204
Bethesda, MD 20814
T:
(301) 652·4900
F: (301) 657·1973
staff@bccchamber.org
www.bccchamber.org
Your Business Is
Our O"lly Business
Testimony of Andrew P. Shulman on behalf of
The Bethesda·Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce
Before The Montgomery County Council
Expedited
Bill 16-11
Noise Control- Urban Area and
Zoning Text Amendment
11-04­
Central Business District Zones - Public Facilities
Good afternoon President Ervin and Members of the County Council. My name is Andy
Shulman and I am testifying on behalf of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of
Commerce in support of two items you will be reviewing this afternoon. The first is the Noise
Legislation - Expedited Bill 16-11 Noise Control-Urban Area. The other is the Zoning Text
Amendment 11-04 - Public Facilities.
The Chamber strongly supports the noise legislation that is before you today. With the daily
activities taking place in our urban areas, the ambient noise levels are currently in direct
violation of the existing noise laws, let alone the weekly music concerts in the park or events
such as Taste of Bethesda. We understand the necessity for noise limits in "suburban"
residential areas, but the Central Business Districts and Arts
&
Entertainment Districts are
urban areas with nightlife and noise levels to be expected from an urban area. With close to
200 restaurants in Bethesda alone, it is unreasonable to expect this urban area to limit outdoor
music or even music in the restaurants to the same levels found in suburban neighborhoods.
The noise you hear in Bethesda is a product of a vibrant and successful community where
activity and commerce are taking place - it is a sign of vitality! We believe that the legislation
as presented is appropriate for our urban areas and we urge you to approve this legislation.
In regards to ZTA 11-04, this amendment would allow publicly owned or operated government
facilities to be incorporated in an Optional Method of Development Project Plan application to
satisfy the public facilities and amenities and public use space requirements.
2011 Annual
Platinum:
.,
EAGLEBANK
Gold:
Lerch, Ear/y,
&
Brewer, Chtd.
Silver:
BOO USA· The Chevy Chase Land Company' ExactTarget· The Gazette·
M&T
Bank' Suburban Hospital
Corporate:
Barwood Transportation' Bond Beebe Accountants
&
Advisors' Councilor, Buchanan
&
Mitchell P,C' Dembo, Jones. Healy. Pennington
&
Marshall, P,C.
Doubletree By Hilton, Hotel
&
Executive Meeting Center' Elite Personnel'
Grossberg
Company LLP. Holland
&
Knight LLP' Hyatt
Regency Bethesda' Unowes and Blocher LLP
Merrill Lynch
-
Melanie Folstad' PNC Bank' White Flint Mall
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The proposed ZT A is consistent with the Council's recent adoption of the CR zone - that is,
governmentally owned or operated public facilities are considered a public benefit. This ZTA
would provide for an excellent way for the County and the local community to realize much
needed and meaningful public facilities and amenities, particularly during economically
challenging times. We concur with the concept contained in the ZTA that preserves the
Planning Board's discretion to approve or disapprove a proposed public facility as a public
amenity. The Planning Board should have the ultimate authority to approve or deny the
arrangement.
We are aware that the JBG Companies is in the process of developing an optional method
project in the Bethesda Central Business District. The project proposes the replacement of the
District 2 Police Station, which is a priority for Bethesda. This ZT A (much like the CR zone)
would help facilitate not only the redevelopment of a portion of the WoodmontTriangle but also
would permit the replacement po'iice station to be treated as the amenity for the project, if
approved by the Planning Board. This seems like a win-win for everyone.
Of great importance, the ZTA would have broad application in all of the County's Central
Business Districts, including but not limited to the Bethesda CBD. As Staff notes, the ZTA
provides another tool in the toolkit to obtain meaningful public amenities and public use space
in optional method projects. This certainly could help to deliver needed public amenities and
facilities to the entire central business district. We see a broad, positive application of this ZTA
in the future.
We respectfully urge the County Council to approve the expedited bill on noise control and the
zoning text amendment.
Thank you for your consideration.
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Testimony of
The Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Board
Public Hearing - expedited Bill 16-11, Noise Control- Urban Area
Montgomery County Council
Tuesday June 14t\ 2011
Good Afternoon Council President Ervin, and members of the Council. My name is Julie
Statland and I am the acting Chair of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory
Committee. I come before you today on behalf of The Silver Spring Urban District
Advisory Committee to express our support for Expedited Bill 16-11, because the Noise
Control Ordinance directly impacts many activities and events that already exist in and
are vital to the success of the Urban District.
Our first recommendation is to request that the name of the bill be changed to "Urban
Sound Areas" instead of "Urban Noise Areas" We believe we should point out Sound
Level Meters measure sound rather than noise. And, after all we consider the Jazz
Festival, our concerts on the mall in Downtown Silver Spring -- including music from our
own Committee member Ernest Bland, the laughter and applause from the crowd for the
Thanksgiving Day Parade, and laughter from children at the fountain to be beautiful
sound, not noise.
These kinds of positive, family-friendly activities bring audiences together from the
community, providing much enjoyment for our citizens and serving as a force to keep our
downtown safe and secure. These kinds of activities also support the mission of the
Urban District.
According to the County's website, the mission of the Silver Spring Urban District is to:
1.
maintain downtovvn Silver Spring in a clean, safe, and attractive manner,
2. promote a strong sense of identity in downtown,
3. ensure that downtown Silver Spring has adequate infrastructure and the enhanced
services required to foster a vibrant social and business climate,
4. ensure long-term economic viability and vitality.
These goals are accomplished through enhanced maintenance, sponsorship of community
events such as Silver Spring Swings Concerts, the Thanksgiving Parade, Silver
Spring Jazz Festival, and Magical Montgomery Cultural Fair.
We must have legislation to assure that the already successful events that have been done
for years in Silver Spring can continue to happen in Silver Spring. These events are
important to those who live in our community, and to the businesses that benefit from the
audiences they attract.
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Many of you know that the citizens of Silver Spring are among the most vocal in our
County. Our Urban District often hears from our citizens on a variety of issues.
Concerns about the level of noise generated by these successful activities has never been
an issue. Based on my time with the Urban District, I can say that our citizens want to
make sure that these arts and entertainment events continue.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that many citizens and business are attracted to
live in or around an urban area in order to take advantage of the amenities provided. The
arts and entertainment activities the outdoor concerts, exercise classes, dance and
theatrical performances and others -- covered under this legislation provide free
enjoyment and bring vibrancy to Silver Spring.
For these reasons, they support the mission of the Urban District and must be allowed to
continue.
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Holland
&
Knight
3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 800
I
Bethesda, MD 20814
Holland
&
Knight LLP
I
vvww.hklaw.com
I
T 301.654.7800
I
F 301.656.3978
William Kominers
(301) 215-6610
william.kominershklaw.com
Susan M. Reutershan
(301) 664-7622
susan.reutershan@hklaw.com
June 13,2011
The Honorable Valerie Ervin
President
Montgomery County Council
Stella B. Werner Council Office Building
100 Maryland Avenue, 6th Floor
Rockville,:rvtD 20850
Re:
Expedited Bill No. 16-11; Noise Control- Urban Areas
Dear Council President Ervin and Members of the Council:
This letter is submitted on behalf of our client, United Therapeutics Corporation, a
biotechnology company with its world headquarters campus located in the Silver Spring
Central Business District ("CBD") at the intersection of Spring and Cameron Streets.
The purpose of this letter is to support Expedited Bill No. 16-11 that would allow higher
sound level standards for outdoor arts and entertainment activities in urban noise areas
during certain limited times of the day.
The United Therapeutics campus is located on both southern comers of the
intersection of Spring Street with Cameron Street (the flProperty"). United Therapeutics
has constructed and occupied its laboratory building and the first of its two office
buildings. The second office building is currently under construction and is expected to
be completed within twelve months. United Therapeutics contributes financially and
otherwise to the economy and vibrancy of downtown Silver Spring, through its
participation in activities that help to energize the community.
The Property is located within the Silver Spring Urban District -- an area that also
encompasses virtually all of the Silver Spring Central Business District, the Silver Spring
Arts and Entertainment District, and the Silver Spring Enterprise Zone. United
Therapeutics has created this campus over the last six years, bringing revitalization to the
Atlanta
I
Bethesda. Boston
I
Chicago! Fort Lauderdale
I
Jacksonville
I
Lakeland
I
Los Angeles
I
Miami
I
New York
Northern Virginia
I
Orlando
I
Portland
I
San Francisco
I
Tallahassee
I
Tampa
I
Washington, D.C.
I
West Palm Beach
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The Honorable Valerie Ervin
June 13,2011
Page 2
area through its groundbreaking biotechnology laboratory and office complex, its creative
architecture, and its employees and those who visit the site.
As part of optional method development of the Property, public use spaces were
created. These were designed as unique, inviting, and exciting spaces that would entice
passersby, enliven the streets, and contribute both "art and entertainment" to the Arts and
Entertainment District. The public was expected to enter the public spaces to explore the
attractions within, including the artistically designed and interactive "sculptural seating
elements" that light up, the BioWalk of Fame that will honor Marylanders who have
made important contributions to the life sciences, and the BioWall
--
public space art in
the form of bio-media performance art
--
that will feature a wide variety of non­
commercial life sciences-oriented programming. The excitement created by the public
spaces is expected to create a "buzz" that will attract those seeking an unusual experience
and an opportunity to mingle and share the experience with others.
Proposed Bill No. 16-11 would amend certain provisions of the Noise Control
Law, Section 31B, Montgomery County Code, to allow higher sound level standards for
certain outdoor arts and entertainment activities in an urban district. The Bill would raise
the allowable noise levels from 65 dBA during the day and 55 dBA at night, to 75 dBA
from 11 :OO.a.m. to 11 :00 p.m. The measurement would be taken at the edge of the urban
district. The Bill seeks to confirm, support, and continue the current character of
activities now being undertaken in the CBD.
United Therapeutics supports these proposed changes to the Noise Law. The
existing sound standards have not increased significantly since they were adopted, when
the County was less developed and less populated. During the same period, the County
has become more urbanized, especially in those areas that were designated CBDs in 1974
and urban districts in 1986. Smart growih and a desire to experience urban life has
caused a greater migration to these transit-oriented parts of the County. These areas are
desired particularly for the activity that occurs there, attracting residents and businesses
with the hustle and bustle of urban life. With this activity comes greater sound and
greater ambient sound levels.
Sound level standards should reflect the realities of these urban areas and the
expectations of those living, working, visiting, and passing through the Silver Spring
Urban District. Both residents of and visitors to the Urban District expect that thriving
urban areas will be more active, more vibrant, and as a result, somewhat noisier than
bedroom communities. The proposed changes to the Noise Law reflect that expectation.
United Therapeutics believes that the proposed Bill represents an appropriate
balance of sound level standards with the needs of the Silver Spring Urban District as a
"destination location" and an activity center that includes the Central Business District,
®
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The Honorable Valerie Ervin
June 13,2011
Page 3
the Arts and Entertainment District, and the Enterprise Zone. The hum of a thriving
urban area is part of what defines its character. Activity of commerce and entertainment
is what energizes and invigorates the visitors and residents. A higher level of sound is
expected, and this translates into the greater vibrancy of the area. Limiting the higher
sound levels to occurring between
11
:00 a.m. and
11
:00 p.m. is appropriate
in
coinciding
with those times that arts and entertainment events occur and that background sound
levels can also be expected to be higher.
For the above reasons, we urge the District Council to adopt Expedited Bill No.
16-11. Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
Sincerely yours,
HOLLAND
&
KNIGHT LLP
William Kominers
Susan M. Reutershan
cc:
Councilmember Phil Andrews
Councilmember Roger Berliner
Councilmember Marc Eirich
Councilmember Nancy Floreen
Councilmember George Leventhal
Councilmember Nancy Navarro
Councilmember Craig Rice
Councilmember Hans Riemer
Mr. Avi Halpert
Paul Mahon, Esquire
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CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
SILVER
SPRING
GREATER
Testimony of
The Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce
Public Hearing - Expedited
Bill 16-11,
Noise Control- Urban Area
Montgomery County Council
Tuesday, June 14,2011
Council President Ervin, members of the Council, good afternoon. For the record, my name is Jane
Redicker and I am President of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce. I am here today to
express our support for Expedited Bill
16-11,
Noise Control- Urban Area.
The Chamber strongly supports this legislation because it will effectively extend to urban districts the
same protections afforded to outdoor entertainment activities conducted at County-owned and operated
facilities under Council Bill 06-10, which the Council passed last month.
Indeed, Expedited Bill 16-11 is necessary in order for the kinds of family-friendly outdoor
entertainment activities that have been occurring and are so desired in downtown Silver Spring to
continue to occur in Downtown Silver Spring.
As specified in the bill, "outdoor arts and entertainment activities in urban areas provide multiple
public benefits including community engagement, cultural arts awareness and enjoyment, crime
reduction, and increased security, while creating spillover economic activity for businesses and
generally enhancing quality of life."
This legislation acknowledges the reality that the kinds of arts and entertainment activities that bring
these benefits may also create noise that exceeds the current restrictive levels in the County's noise
ordinance. It's worth noting that the 75 dba allowed in the new legislation is the level of an average
radio or vacuum cleaner. We're not talking about levels generated by a typical rock concert, or even a
jack hammer on the street.
Urban areas like Silver Spring, which has both an Urban District and an Arts
&
Entertainment District
specially designated to facilitate arts and entertainment activities, already have a higher level of
background noise from multiple sources. Residents and business owners in urban areas generally
expect a higher level of noise. Indeed many folks move to urban areas specifically because of the
increased excitement and liveliness they provide.
This legislation focuses on spaces designed for these types of public gatherings, such public plazas,
rights-of-ways, and public amenity space included in development plans for certain zones. These areas
are ideal for the kinds of desirable arts and entertainment activities that bring communities together
and serve to deter criminal activity.
Expedited Bill
16-11
is a logical extension of Bill 06-10 and is essential to continuing the kinds of arts
and entertainment activities that bring diverse groups into downto\\'11 Silver Spring and help keep it
safe and secure.
8601 Georgia Avenue, Suite 203, Silver Spring, Iv!aryland 20910
Phone: 301-565-3777
Fax: 301-565-3377
info @gsscc.org
www.silverspringchamber.com
@
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5
June 14,2011
Subject: MCCF Testimony to Council on Bill 16-11, Noise Control - Urban Areas
I am Jim Humphrey, testifying
o~behalf
oftk: MontgOinery County Civic Federation as
Chair of their Planning and Land Use Conunittee.
This testimony was imanhnously approved for transrrrlttalatour meeting
l~t
night.
In it
we pose a few questions about proposed Bil116-11 that explain some of the concerns that
Civic Federation members have with this legislation.
1) How will the general public be informed if and when the County Executive designates
an "urban noise area" by Executive Order published in the County Register? (since most
Civic Federation members were not aware there was such a document as the "County
Register," and have no idea how or where to access it)
2) If Bill 16-11 allows as acceptable a noise level of75 dBA (the equivalent of an "un­
silenced wood shredder at 10 meters distancet'--see Attachment 1) at the outer boundary
of an Urban District or designated Urban Noise Area, then how loud must the sound be
for audience members in the immediate area of the outdoor arts or entertainment activity?
Is this an acceptable noise level to allow from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in mixed use areas that
contain housing?
3) Who would someone call in county government to lodge a complaint outside of
normal business hours (after 5 p.m. on weekdays or all day Saturday or Sunday) alleging
the sound generated by an outdoor arts or entertainment activity exceeds the allowable
noise level, or that a 75 dBA level was reached before 11 a.m. or after 11 p.m.? We
understand that one must make an appointment to have a staffer from the Department of
Environmental Protection investigate an alleged violation of the noise control ordinance;
and by the time a DEP staffer arrived at an outdoor arts or entertainment venue the event
would, in all likelihood, be over. If this is the case, and it is unenforceable, of what use is
this amendment to the county noise control ordinance?
We have attached some basic information, captured from an internet search, on the
measurement of sound by dBA level and some concerns with
it,
and on the dBA
equivalent of everyday sounds.
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Attachment 1
MCCF testimony on Bill 16-11
June 14,2011
captured
6/2/11
fromhttp://hyperphysics. phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/sound/acont html
Sound Measurement in dBA
When making practical assessments of the sound level of a concert or as a part of a
general survey of ambient sound levels, the type of measurement which is usually made
is that of the level in dBA. This measurement is made with a sound level meter with an A
contour filter which provides the best instnunent match of the ear's equal loudness curves
for soft sounds in the neighborhood of 40 dB.
A Contour Filter
The A-contour filters out significantly more bass
than
the others,
arid
is designed to
approximate the ear at around the 40 phon level.
It
is
very useful for eliminating
inatidibl~
low frequencies.
.. '
.
captured
6/1/11
from www.sengpielaudio.comrrableOfSoundPressureLevels.htm
How loudis dangerous?
.
Typical dbA levels
r----:dB-=-'9A-='°Ic-H ea_v_y_w_e_a_p_o_ns_,_1_0_m_be_h_in_d_t_h_e_w_e_a_p_on_"
__
_(m_a~X_'im_._um7"·'.· _· I,e~V_e_I)
_ _
~
...._ .
~_m
_ _ _
.m".'_
,I
d~~ITOY
pistol fired close to ear (maximum level)
:CC:+::': - - - - - - - , - - - : : : - - - - . - -
m'"
: - - : - - - - : - - - - - : - : . - - - : - : - _ '
. ,
___
I
~,
170;Slap on the ear, fire cracker explodes on shoulder, small arms
dBAat a distance of 50 cm (maximum level)
,
----'160 Hammer stroke ollbrass tubing or steel plate at 1 m distance ..
------------~
_------'~BAairbag
deployment very close at a distance of 30 cm (maximum
I_ev_e_I):~"--~_~_-i
__
d~~!Hammer
stroke in a smithy at 5 m distance (maximum level)
---,-----'--,
-.
-
-.. . .
.
!
'--~1301
.--~-----"-,
; . dBA;LPud hand clapping at 1 m distance (maximum level)
,-­
d~~iWh~stle
at 1 m
dista~ce,
test run of a jet at 15 m distance
iThreshold of pain, above this
ipossible
i
fast~acting
hearing damage in short action i s - - - i
i-~;jTake-off
sound of planes at 10 m distance
11 oiSiren at 10 rn distance, frequent
so~n.dC-Cl-ev-e~i
-in-.d iscotheques and close "
dBA!to
lo~dspeakers.
at rock concerts, vlohn close to the ear of an orchestra
______
:~l:!.s~~lans
(maxImum leveIL_ _ _ _
~_.,,
__
,,~
__
~_~
________..
~_._.
105 Chain saw at 1 m distance, bang:ng car door at 1 m distance (maximum level),
music head
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d~~iFreqUent
level with music via head phones, jack hammer at 10m distance
i
95 dBAiLoud crying, hand circular saw at 1 m distance
!
90 dBA!Angle grinder outside at 1 m distance
\Over a duration of 40 hours a week hearing damage is possible
I
85 dBA!2-stroke chain-saw at 10 m distance, loud
we
flush at 1 m distance
!
80 dBAIVery loud traffic noise of passing lorries at 7.5 m distance,
i
ihigh traffic on an expressway at 25 m distance
.
175
-dB~APassing
car at 7.5 m distance,
un-silen-c-ed~w-o-od-;---:sh:-r-e-:-d
d-:-e-r-a:-t-=-1
oC:--m-d--is-t-an-c-e~--~--j11
70 dBA,Level close to a main road by day, quiet hair dryer at 1 m distance to ear
~
: 65 dBA,Bad risk of heart circulation disease at constant impact is possible
i
60 dBA!Noisy lawn mower at 10 m distance
i
55 dBAiLow vO.lume of radio or TV at 1 m distance, noisy vacuum cleaner at
. 1 0 m distance
: 50 dBAiRefrigerator at 1 m distance, bird twitter outside at 15 m distance
!
45 dBA/Noise of normal living; talking, or radio in the background
40 dBA[Distraction when learning or concentration is possible
f'35-
dBAiVery quiet room fan at low speed at 1 m distance
. 25 dBA!Sound of breathing at 1 m distance
dBA!Auditory threshold
f
1
i
---~
I
o
From a dB-A measurement no accurate description of the expected noise volume
is possible.
Pro audio equipment often lists an A-weighted noise spec - not because it correlates
well with our hearing - but because it can "hide" nasty hum components that make for
bad noise specs.
Words to bright minds: Always wonder what a manufacturer is hiding
when they use A-weighting.
captured from http://www.rane.com/note145.html
Audio Specifications
Dennis Bohn, Rane Corporation
RaneNote 145, written 2000; last revised
1/03
Pro audio equipment often lists an A-weighted noise spec -- not because it correlates
well with our hearing -- but because it can "hide" nasty hum components that make for
bad noise specs.
Always wonder if
a
manufacturer is hiding something when you see A­
weighting specs.
A-weighting rolls off the low-end, thus reducing the most annoying 2
nd
rd
and 3 line harmonics by about 20 dB and 12 dB respectively. Sometimes A-weighting
can "improve" a noise spec by 10 dB.
The argument used to justify this is that the ear is not sensitive to low frequencies at low
levels (a la Fletcher-Munson equal loudness curves), but that argument is false.
Fletcher-Munson curves document equal loudness of single tones. Their curve tells us
nothing of the ear's astonishing ability to sync in and lock onto repetitive tones -- like
hum components -- even when these tones lie beneath the noise floor. This is what A­
weighting can hide. For this reason most manufacturers shy from using it; instead they
spec
SIN
figures "flat" or use the ITU-R 468 curve
(which actually makes their numbers
look worse, but correlate better with the real world).
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c
G.n.R-Rm P.n.R.U tn.nT{S - W-UIT{
~LlHT
P.n.R-U
1
(1TIZ{HS .flSiO(I.nTlOH
11111 Jolly Way
Kensington, Md. 20895
June 14,2011
Re: Expedited Bill 16-11, Noise Control - Urban Areas
President Ervin, Members of the County Council, I am Natalie Goldberg representing Garrett
Park Estates
I
White Flint Park Citizens Association.
Our
community of single family homes is
located just south of the White Flint Sector Plan area with residences abutting the Sector Plan
boundary at the White Flint Mall property. We are concerned that Bill 16-11, Noise Control­
Urban Areas will negatively impact our quality of life.
During development ofthe White Flint Sector Plan, council members were very supportive of
the need to maintain compatibility with existing residential communities. Density and height
transition from higher and denser buildings at the core, to the lower densities and heights at the
edges bordering existing neighborhoods. We believe that compatibility is more than just density
and height, but includes noise as well Accordingly, we believe that existing single family
residential homes should be protected from excessive noise by maintaining the current standards
for single-family residential areas.
We would like to see some changes to this proposed bill both in the definition of an urban noise
area and in the noise standards themselves. We ask for protection within this bill for existing
single family residential homes located in proximity to urban noise areas.
The urban noise area, Section 31B-2, is defined in terms oflocation (paragraph (a) lines 33 -37)
and property characteristics (paragraph (b) lines 39 -46). The property characteristic section
seems broken down into two categories: (1) a space accessible to the public or (2) a publically
owned space. We support the exclusion provided in the publically owned areas which states:
"(B) is not adjacent to and does not confront any property that is used for single­
family residential use"
We ask that this exclusion be applicable to privately owned space described in paragraph
(1)
and
well as the public space in paragraph (2). Perhaps this exclusion should be moved below both (1)
and (2) and modified to be a separate phrase reading "(3) in either
(1)
or (2) above, Dot adjacent
to and Dot confronting any property that is used for single-family residential use."
We also believe that there should be a modification to the Section 31B-6B, Noise standards in
urban noise areas, to insure that noise levels at the boundary of single family residential
neighborhoods not exceed the standards of 65dBA during the day and 55dBA at night, as
currently defined in Section 31B-5 for residential areas. We ask that a new paragraph (d) be
added to Section 31B-6B stating:
(d) nothing in the above sections shall cause the noise level and noise disturbance
standards in Section 31B-5 for single family residential areas to be exceeded.
Thank you for considering our concerns.
1
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Thank you for allowing me to address the Council this afternoon. I am
Diana Holland, the Property Manager of and a resident at Triangle
Towers Apartments located at 4853 Cordell Avenue in the heart of
downtown Bethesda.
I would like to quickly recount for you the concerns my residents have
regarding Expedited Bill 16-11, Noise Control- Urban Area. It is my
understanding that the Council is considering raising the decibel levels
allowed during the myriad street festivals enjoyed by County residents in
what is defined as an Urban Area.
The particular concern revolves around festivals sponsored by the
Bethesda Urban Partnership. Most of the residents at Triangle Towers
enjoy living in the midst of all these vibrant cultural activities, such as the
Taste of Bethesda and the Bethesda Art Festival. These venues feature
wonderful food, artistic vendors and live music. However, it is
challenging to peacefully co-exist while they are going on. Here is an
example. On Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15, 2011, during the
Bethesda Art Festival, a sound stage was located near our building and
the residents were subjected to music so loud on both days that you
could feel the floors shaking. This is not a good quality of life for those
who choose not to attend the festivals.
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If you can't beat 'em - join 'em ... some might say. But that is not always
possible if you are elderly, partake in shift work at Bethesda Naval
Hospital, are studying medicine at the Armed Forces medical school
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences or are working from
home.
I would ask that the Council keep in mind that approximately 350 tax
paying Montgomery County residents live at our building and would be
directly affected by the increase in the decibelleve!. From what I can
read in the Expedited Bill an Urban Noise Area is defined in part as, (and I
quote)
"only a publicly owned plaza
l
right of way
I
or open space that is
adjacent
to
or confronts property used for commercial or mixed use and
is not adjacent
to
and does not confront any property that is used for
single family residential use
N
(end quote). What about apartment
buildings located in an Urban Noise area? No mention is made of
apartment buildings in located in Urban Noise areas. The impact to my
residents would be greater than residents in single family homes!
On behalf of the Triangle Towers Apartments residents I respectfully
request that the Montgomery County Council leave the current standards
of 67 dBA and 62dBA in place and I thank you for your consideration.
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Ms. Doll,
Let me take this opportunity to once again apologize for any problems that we may have
caused you or any other residents of Triangle Towers. As I mentioned to you when we
spoke we will be debriefing this event as we do all events that we manage and produce
early this week.
I
can assure you that we have heard your concerns and we will be
taking the necessary steps to make sure that this unfortunate situation will not occur in
the future.
Dave Dabney
Executive Director
Bethesda Urban Partnership
7700
Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda, Maryland
20814
www.bethesda.org
301-215-6660
extension
122
240-876-8492
cell
From:
Amy Doll [mailto:doll.amy@gmail.com]
Sent:
SundaYI May
15
1
2011 06:01
PM
To:
Councilmember.Berliner@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov;
County.Council@MontgomeryCountyIVID.gov
Cc:
Diana Holland; Dave Dabney; Lauren Hamilton
Subject:
High-volume noise from BUP arts festival -- formal complaint
Dear Couneilmember Berliner:
This weekend} May 14-15} 2011} your District 1 constituents at Triangle Towers
Apartments in Bethesda} MD} experienced a serious noise problem from high­
volume music in close proximity to our apartments for 8 hours between 10am­
th
6pm on May 14th and 7 hours between 9:45am-nearly 5pm on May 15 because
of poor planning by Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) for the Bethesda Arts
Festival. I live on the Del Ray Avenue side of our 16-floor high-rise building and
my apartment home is one of around 100 apartments faeing Del Ray Avenue.
BUP had closed multiple streets within Bethesda}s Wood mont Triangle for this
festival} and none of those blocks had apartment homes except for the area
where they located their entertainment stage. On Del Ray Avenue} literally right
under my apartment windows} BUP}s entertainment stage had around a half­
dozen commercial size amplifiers that played high-volume music during the
lengthy period on Saturday and Sunday noted above.
On Saturday {May 14}} after they started testing the sound system and amplifiers
around 9:15am} I realized the volume would be unbearable in my apartment
right above BUP}s entertainment stage. Then I went outside} found and spoke
with Ms. Hamilton} BUP}s Senior Marketing Manager. She explained that she
@
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made the decision to locate the entertainment stage with full knowledge that
would be under many apartment homes at Triangle Towers and also said she
had located it on that part of Del Ray Avenue even though she knew it was the
only block within the entire festival area that had a residential building. Ms.
Hamilton listened to my concerns but said she would locate the entertainment
stage under our apartment homes again in future years, unless there was a
formal complaint. Please consider this letter my formal compliant to the County
Council about BUP locating high-volume entertainment stages right under the
windows of a large number of downtown Bethesda's apartment homes.
On Sunday (May 15), as I was leaving home to escape the loud noise I saw Mr.
Dabney (who
I
recognized from photos in BUP literature) and spoke with him
about the same concerns. Mr. Dabney said he had been notified that the high­
volume music from BUP's entertainment stage on Del Ray Avenue was a big
problem for residents in Triangle Towers. Mr. Dabney said he had asked for the
volume to be kept down; however, with so many amplifiers in such close
proximity to our apartment homes it wasn't helping much that morning. After
returning home around 4pm,
I
found the band playing then had a full drum set
and trumpets, electric guitars, and vocals that were at such a high volume' had
to insert ear plugs because it was painfully loud inside my apartment. All of my
double-pane windows were kept closed all weekend and even with the earplugs
it was unbearable late Sunday afternoon so
I
began writing this letter with my
formal complaint.
I
understood from Mr. Dabney that BUP will have a debriefing after this festival
and that he plans to discuss BUP's location of their high-volume entertainment
stage in such close proximity to our apartment homes during their BUP
debriefing. Hopefully BUP will make a decision not to locate a high-volume
entertainment stage on Del Ray Avenue right under our apartment windows at
Triangle Towers in future events.
I
will send
a
copy of this letter by
u.s.
mail and follow up with
a
call to your
office.
Sincerely,
Amy Doll
4853 Cordell Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
doll.amy@gmail.com
cc:
Diana Holland, Property Manager, Triangle Towers
W. David Dabney, Executive Directory, BUP
Lauren Hamilton, Senior Marketing Manager, BUP
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4853 Cordell Ave #614
Bethesda, MD 20814
June 13,2011
Honorable Roger Berliner
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
Dear Councilmember Berliner:
As a long-time resident of Montgomery County, currently living in the Woodmont
Triangle area of downtown Bethesda, I wish to express my strong opposition to Expedited Bill
16-11, which establishes urban noise areas to which are applied more relaxed standards on noise
control. My objections to this bill are detailed below.
1) Existing noise standards are already inadequate. There are numerous occasions on
weekend evenings when I have to wear earplugs indoors (with the windows closed)
because of the noise from amplified music presented outdoors at various local bars and
restaurants. On a few notable occasions, I was unable to hear my own television due to
the amplified music. Such disturbance occasionally lasts until 1 AM, shortly before the
bars close. The most notorious source of disturbance is Caddies on CordelL
2) There is no adequate means of enforcement even of the current noise standards. The
police have told me that they do not have the authority to enforce the noise ordinance,
and the Department of Environmental Protection, which is theoretically responsible for
enforcing noise control rules, does not appear to carry out evaluations on weekend
evenings; they also appear to have no means for rapid response to a source of
disturbance.
3) The bill is poorly drafted and lacking in proper definition. The definition of "outdoor arts
and entertainment activities" would seem to include a bar that broadcasts amplified
music outdoors on its patio or to tables set up on the sidewalk. Was it the intent of the bill
to cover such attempts by for-profit entities that are not generally free and open to the
public (minors are not allowed where alcohol is sold) or rather to limit the coverage to
free outdoor concerts put on by government or non-profit entities?
4) The definition of where the noise limits apply ("boundary of the property") are not
sufficiently explicit. In many cases, the speakers broadcasting the amplified music are
pointed at an upward angle. In such situations, the noise level may be louder 15 or 20 feet
above ground level at the property line rather than at ground leveL The placement of
speakers becomes critical for those Mus living in high-rise apartments which have a
direct line-of-sight to the source of amplified music.
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5) The public sidewalk in front of a bar in downtown Bethesda would seem to qualify as an
"urban noise area" under the provisions of the bilL No doubt this proposed legislation
would encourage bar owners to place additional tables for patrons on the sidewalk so that
they can listen to the amplified music from the bar ("outdoor arts and entertainment
activity"), as other entities in downtown Bethesda have done. As a result, a "public right
of way" will no longer be a "right of way" there are already many areas where sidewalk
tables have so encroached on sidewalk space that only a single file of pedestrians is
feasible - walkers going in one direction may have to stop and wait until those going in
the opposite direction are finished. [Aside: does the county regulate the setting up of
tables on public sidewalks? I haven't been able to find any regulations or permitting
process - the establishments seem to be able to do as they wish].
6) The presumptions of the bill are incorrect. The statement that "residents and occupants of
those [urban] areas generally expect higher levels of noise" is totally unsupported. I, like
many other residents, moved to this area well before the advent of amplified music
broadcast outdoors. Many choose to live in downtown Bethesda because of its proximity
to NIH, USUHS, or Bethesda Naval Hospital, not because of a desire to live in a noisy
environment. I would note that people are being encouraged to live near Metro to avoid
creating more traffic congestion, and these areas around Metro are often urbanized and
heavily developed - just the location where one would find urban noise areas.
7) The bill is discriminatory against low-income residents. Many ofthe moderately-priced
dwelling units required by the county are being constructed as part of high-rises in urban
areas, including Bethesda, in accord with the county plan. Low-income residents live in
these locations not because they would like to live in a noisy area but because that is
where the county is establishing housing for lower-income individuals. The new low­
income housing facility on Cordell Avenue, for example, is in close proximity to many of
the sources of amplified music.
8) The number of people impacted is huge. My apartment building alone (Triangle Towers)
has 266 units, including families with children, and the apartment building next door
(Palisades) has 314 units. Does the council really believe that disrupting the lives of
1000+ individuals on one block alone is a "public benefit"? I would note that several
additional new high-rise apartment buildings are under construction just in the
W oodmont Triangle area, some right across the street from bars playing amplified
music, so that the number of people impacted by this proposed law (many of whom vote)
is likely to be in the many thousands.
9) The bill states that crime prevention is one of the public benefits seen from outdoor arts
and entertainment activities. In my experience, just the opposite is true: loud amplified
music played until late hours at local drinking establishments seems to attract patrons
who are predisposed to public drunkenness, disturbance of the peace, driving while
intoxicated, and violation of laws prohibiting the serving of alcohol to minors.
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10) This bill will certainly increase the income of local bar owners, but the resulting increase
in noise level will almost certainly adversely affect the desirability of nearby apartments
and consequently the income of apartment owners, ultimately leading to a net overall
decrease in business activity and a consequent decrease in tax revenue to the county.
11) The council should not use the relative low number of formal noise complaints with DEP
to indicate that residents in urban areas are satisfied with the noise level. Rather, this lack
of written documents reflects the complexity offiling formal noise complaints with DEP
and the difficulty for an individual to prove a violation as defined by law. I personally
have started the process of filing a noise complaint several times, only to stop halfway
through because of the apparent futility. I can assure council members that if they hold an
evening town hall in the meeting room of one of the apartment buildings in downtown
Bethesda, they will receive numerous noise complaints which will be verified by multiple
residents, not just a single individual with an axe to grind.
I would strongly encourage members of the County Council to make their own visits to
downtown Bethesda on weekend evenings when the noise is greatest (I suggest Caddies on
Cordell). The council members should also avail themselves of an opportunity to have staff from
the noise control division play amplified music for them at the specified legal limits of the
current law and the new bill. The Department of Environmental Protection may wish to put some
monitoring devices in apartments that are subject to noise even under the current rules.
This bill appears to have been hastily drafted, likely with good intention, but suffers from
numerous serious deficiencies. This legislation would adversely impact numerous constituents,
and any benefit of the legislation is far outweighed by its harm. This bill should be withdrawn.
Allan
R.
Glass
cc:
Valerie Irvin, Council Chair
Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
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6-/-//
TlN NGUYEN/THE GAZETTE
Paul Haar of Chevy Chase and his daughter Sophie move to the rock and pop music by The Crimestoppers band at Veterans Park in
Bethesda on May 19 as part of the weekly Thursday summer concerts in downtown Bethesda.
.
Urban areas get second shot at increasing noise levels
• Sounds at events in BErthesda
could reach up to 75 decibels
BY ALISON BRYAi.'IT
STAFF
\II/RITER
Musicians at the Bethesda Fine Arts
Festival jammed a little too loud in May;
prompting complaints from neighbors
that coincide with a potential change
in
law for noise levels in urban areas.
Outdoor arts and entertainment activ­
ities in downtown Bethesda, Wneaton and
Silver Spring· could reach volumes of
75
decibels - roughly the level of sound a
vacuum cleaner makes - between
11
a.m.
and
11
p.m. Standards now allow a volume
of
67
decibels during the day and
62
deci­
bels during the night in non-residential
areas. Conversation speech ranges arolUld
60
decibels.
Municipalities can also designate
areas, and the COlUlty executive can desig­
nate any other areas.
At the request of COlUlty Executive
Isiah Leggett (D), COlUlcil President Valerie
Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver
intro­
dt:ced
bill
1B. A
is
at
100
decibels between
11
a.ill. and
11
p.m.
The new bill for urban areas follows
suit.
The new bill allows for public input,
which County COlUlcil Vice President
. Roger Berliner (D-Dist.
1)
of Potomac said
makes the approach more reasonable.
"I do believe that it is important for our·
urban districts to be able to provide. enter­
tainment' but not at a noise level that
dis­
turbs u1e community," Berliner said. 'i\nd
since we feel like we have achieved that
balance roughly
in
Strathmore,
I
am hope­
ful
that the same balance
will
occur for the
urban districts."
Some residents of Triangle Towers
complained during the arts festival May
14
and
15
because an entertainment stage
was outside their building on Del Ray
Avenue.·
.
From May
2010
through April
2011,
the
MontgomeryColUlty Police Department
received
138
calls from downtown Bethes
c
da that were classified as noise complaints
when they came in, said Angela Cruz,
police department spokeswoman.
In a formal complaint to Berliner, Amy
Doll, a Triangle Towers resident, said she.
AYT",,,c>n,'<',,
a ser:ous noise
from
a.m. to 6
May 14, a.'1d from 9:45 .
a.m. to nearly
p.D.
[\/Iay 15.
A
bill
requested
a year
ago
the Strath.1ll0re Hall Foundation Inc. to
preserve its outdoor concert series passed
May
18,
increasing noise standards to
75
"On Del
Avercue, literally right
under
my
apartment "vindov,'S, [Bethesda
Urban Partnership's] entertainment stage
had around a.balf-dozen commercial size
amplifiers that played high-volume music
during the lengthy period on Saturday
an~
SlUlday noted above," she said in her for­
mal complaint.
Doll contacted the partnership and
Southern Management Corporation, the
company that manages Triangle Towers,
with her complaint, a sentiment she said
others in her building felt as well.
Both groups were receptive to the
complaints.
Partnership representatives want to
strike a balance between providing good
music during festivals and respecting resi­
dents, said Stephanie Coppula, director of
marketing and cornmunicationsat the
partnership, a group that markets down­
town Bethesda and produces cultural
events and festivals for the community.
"Even
if
legislation is in place and says
you can go to a certain decibel level, we'll
still work with our community;" Coppula
said.
Partnership representatives told resi­
dents who complained about noise levels
that the entertainment stage would not be
located near residential properties at next
year's festival, Coppula said.
The noise complaint, Coppula said,
was one of the LIst the partnership has
received
in a
long time.
"I t.Th'Llc
music greatly enhances
an
event," she said. "But we have to have a
middle grolUld."
abryant@gazette.net
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31B-6A.
Seasonal noise level standard for qualifying outdoor arts and
entertainment activities.
(a)
Each outdoor
arts and entertainment activity
held at a
qualifying
performing arts facility
must not exceed the following noise decibel
limits:
(1)
from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during April 1 through October 31, 75
dBA, as measured on the receiving property; and
(2)
at all other times, the maximum allowable noise level set in
Section 31 B-5.
(b)
A qualifying performing arts facility
which has complied with this
Section must not cause or permit noise levels from an outdoor
arts and
entertainment activity
to exceed the standards in subsection (a).
(c)
Any outdoor
arts and entertainment activity
conducted at a
qualifying performing arts facility
which has complied with this
Section must not be cited as causing a noise disturbance.
(d)
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.
F:ILAW\BILLSI I006 Noise - Perfonning
Arts
FacilityI31B-6A CleanDoc