Rural quality of life jeopardized by proposed event venue legislation

Doug Kaplan

If you live in the vicinity of an agricultural parcel of land, your quality of life is in jeopardy. Legislation before the County Council would allow someone to use a parcel as small as 25 acres for an event venue. The purpose of this bill is not to allow a one-time event, but to allow a property owner to conduct events throughout the year.

Event venues have extremely loud amplified sound that is likely to exceed the boundaries of almost any property. Most everyone has attended an event where the music is so loud one cannot conduct a conversation with someone across the table or even in an adjacent chair.
The county has a noise ordinance limiting the amount of noise past a property line; however, this does not mean the sound from an event venue would not be heard on nearby properties. The building or tent for the event could be only 50 feet from the property’s border. Daytime noise limits which are up to 10:00 p.m. would not eliminate music and other sounds being heard on a neighboring property.

Both in Frederick and Montgomery County those living in the vicinity of these venues have complained to county officials of excessive sound from events. As those living in Emmitsburg can testify, noise levels can exceed any limits placed on events and our county does not have the means to enforce the noise ordinance.

This bill would allow attendance of up to 500 guests, plus staff. Most of the agricultural areas of the county are accessible by rural, two lane roads and in many cases have sharp curves. They were not designed to accommodate heavy traffic, which would be the case for large events as envisioned by this bill. Drivers not familiar with the country roads might not expect slow moving farm equipment, horses and bicycle traffic around a bend. Depending on the location of a specific event venue and drinking, the likelihood of accidents occurring is a sizeable concern.

In addition to the quality of life issue, property values surrounding an event venue is an issue. Studies on businesses affecting neighboring properties have shown a decrease of at least 15%.

The county currently has a process in place if an entity wants to create a facility to host weddings and other events. This process has worked well and the end results have been venues which have been successful without harming neighboring property owners’ rights.

The Frederick News Post quoted Jan Gardner on August 16, 2016:

“Noise can affect the quality of life that our citizens have come to expect and enjoy in Frederick County. Residents certainly have a right to enjoy their property and to be free of noise levels that jeopardize their ability to enjoy their property and their homes.”

The citizens of Frederick County have the right to enjoy our property and be free of noise levels that would jeopardize our ability to enjoy our property and homes. To allow a relatively few landowners to destroy the tranquility for so many would not only be wrong but illogical.

A copy of this bill can be found HERE, on the County Council website, and an interesting column by Bud Otis, County Council President, was published in the Frederick News Post and by Envision Frederick County: “Making the proposed event venues bill better for neighbors and the county”

For those who might be affected or care about noise pollution, please attend one or both of the planned hearings. The County Council will hold a hearing on April 4th at 7:00 p.m. and the Planning Commission on April 12th at 9:30 a.m.

Both hearings will be held at Winchester Hall, 12 East Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701.

You may also email comments to the County Council at councilmembers@frederickcountymd.gov, and the County Executive at jgardner@FrederickCountyMD.gov and the Planning Commission at PlanningCommission@FrederickCountyMD.gov.


(click on the image to open a larger version of the flyer)