Dorchester County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of County Commissioners 2-27-2001 by Ord. No. 292. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Right to Farm Law — See Ch. 38.
Sheriff; County Jail — See Ch. 44.
Dog control — See Ch. 78.
Right to farm — See Ch. 127.

§ 115-1 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
NOISE DISTURBANCE
Sounds of sufficient volume, character and duration so as to be productive of actual physical discomfort or annoyance to persons of normal sensibilities.

§ 115-2 Declaration of policy.

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Dorchester County Commissioners to prevent any unreasonable, loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise. Noise of such volume and duration as to be detrimental to the life, health, safety and general welfare of any individual, which annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensibilities, or which is contrary to the public welfare, is prohibited as hereinafter provided.

§ 115-3 Noise prohibited.

A. 
General prohibitions. It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to make, continue or cause to be made a noise disturbance within the county after having been directed or ordered by a police officer to desist in creating such disturbance, except as provided in this section.
B. 
Specific prohibitions. The following acts are hereby declared to be unreasonably loud noises in violation of this section:
(1) 
Horns, radios and similar devices.
(a) 
Devices enumerated.
[1] 
Horns and signaling devices. The sounding of any horn or signaling device on any automobile, motorcycle, boat or other vehicle in the county, except as a danger warning, for any unnecessary or unreasonable length of time.
[2] 
Radios, television sets, phonographs, musical instruments and similar devices.
(b) 
Operation of devices.
[1] 
It shall be unlawful to operate or permit the use or operation of any device mentioned in Subsection B(1)(a) for the production or reproduction of sound in such a manner as to disturb the peace, quiet, and comfort of the neighboring inhabitants.
[2] 
It shall be prima facie evidence of the violation of this chapter to operate any such device in a manner whereby the noise is plainly audible across real property boundaries and/or through partitions common to parties within a building, or plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from such device or the building, structure or vehicle in which it is located.
(2) 
Motor vehicles. Operating any vehicle or motorcycle which is out of repair or does not have a muffler operating within the manufacturer's specifications in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance.
(3) 
Construction equipment. Operating or causing to be operated any equipment used in commercial construction, repair, alteration or demolition work on buildings, structures, streets, alleys, lanes or appurtenances thereto between the hours of one-half hour after sunset and 6:00 a.m. the following day in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance, except as permitted or sanctioned by the County Commissioners.
(4) 
Power equipment. Operating or causing to be operated any power saw, sander, drill, grinder, garden equipment or tools of a similar nature outdoors between the hours of 1/2 hour after sunset and 6:00 a.m. the following day in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance.
(5) 
Unamplified human voice. Using the unamplified human voice by yelling, shouting or by any other means in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance.
(6) 
Security alarms. Activation of an audible security alarm for a period in excess of 15 minutes.
(7) 
Marine vessels. The operation of any boat with a motor, or other marine vessel, excepting boats operated by commercial watermen, unless equipped with an adequately muffled exhaust system, or the use of any siren or other noise-producing or noise-amplifying instrument or mechanical device on a boat in such a manner that the peace and good order of the neighborhood is disturbed; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of whistles, bells or horns as signals as required by the United States Motor Boat Act or other state or federal laws for the safe navigation of motor boats or vessels.
(8) 
Domestic animals.
(9) 
Mechanical equipment mounted on vehicles.
(10) 
Aircraft which maintains its flight pattern in limited or small airspace.
(11) 
Any other noise which is deemed to be a noise disturbance as defined herein, except for noises which are otherwise exempted in this chapter.

§ 115-4 Exemptions.

The following shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter:
A. 
The sounding of safety signals and warning devices as a danger warning in such a manner as would otherwise cause a noise disturbance.
B. 
The operation by the United States government, the State of Maryland, Dorchester County, Maryland, the Mayor and Commissioners of the city, a volunteer fire company, a volunteer ambulance corps or other local government agency or a public service company as defined by the Annotated Code of Maryland, Article 78, of a vehicle or equipment in response to an emergency in such a manner as would otherwise cause a noise disturbance.
C. 
Producing or emitting noises generated from the provision of the County Commissioners or its agents in such a manner as would otherwise cause a noise disturbance.
D. 
Producing or emitting noise generated by parades, public gatherings and any other activity which is permitted or sanctioned by the County Commissioners in such a manner as would otherwise cause a noise disturbance.
E. 
The sounding of bells, chimes or carillons while being used for religious purposes or in conjunction with religious services or for natural or state celebrations or public holidays in such a manner as would otherwise cause a noise disturbance.
F. 
Operation between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 1/2 hour after sunset of lawn maintenance equipment when it is functioning within manufacturer's specifications and with all mufflers and noise-reducing equipment in use and in proper operating condition, in such a manner as would otherwise cause a noise disturbance.
G. 
The production or generation of nonamplified crowd noises resulting from activities, such as those conducted by day-care centers, schools, governmental or community groups, in such a manner as would otherwise cause a noise disturbance.
H. 
The production or generation of electronically amplified announcements at athletic events in such a manner as would otherwise cause a noise disturbance.
I. 
Noises emanated by commercial farming operations, as such noises are subject to complaints filed under the Dorchester County Right To Farm Ordinance.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 127, Right to Farm.

§ 115-5 Responsibility of owner of premises.

It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly permit the making, creation or maintenance of unreasonably loud noises upon any premises owned or possessed by him or under his control.

§ 115-6 Variances.

The Commissioners shall have the authority to grant variances from the literal enforcement of this chapter.
A. 
Written application. Any person seeking a variance from this chapter shall file a written application with the County Administrator.
B. 
Appeals. Any party aggrieved by a decision of the Commissioners may appeal to the Circuit Court for Dorchester County in the manner set forth in the applicable sections of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as amended.

§ 115-7 Enforcement; violations and penalties.

Violations of this chapter shall constitute a municipal infraction. Any person, persons or group of persons who shall violate this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined $100 for any single, initial violation, or $200 for each repeat or continuing violation and/or shall be sentenced to no more than five days of incarceration. Each day that such a violation continues or reoccurs shall be deemed a separate offense. The commission of such violation by a corporation, firm or partnership shall be construed, insofar as is legally permissible, as the commission of such offenses by any and all officers and/or partners of such corporation, firm or partnership.

§ 115-8 Enforcement officials.

Pursuant to § 44-1 of the Code, the Dorchester County Commissioners hereby designate the Sheriff of Dorchester County as the code enforcement official authorized by the Commissioners to issue citations for infractions hereof.