Sing in the shower or shout at the heavens if you will, but in Anne Arundel County be warned that you must also watch the clock.
The Anne Arundel County Council today by a 5-1 vote passed an ordinance making it a misdemeanor to "yell, shout, hoot, whistle or sing" loud enough to be heard by anyone more than 50 feet away between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
No one testified for or against the bill, and the only opposition came from Councilwoman Maureen Lamb (D-Annapolis), who questioned the county's authority to stop people who want to sing.
"It's very difficult to control an 18-year-old who's feeling good and decides he wants to sing," Lamb said.
The ordinance, which council members said was the first of its kind for a Washington-area county, is intended to help county police cut down on bothersome residential noise, said its author, Councilman Edward C. Ahern (D-Pasadena).
V. Richard Molloy, county police information officer, said he doubted the new ordinance would be regularly enforced.
"It's something you could use if somebody was being disorderly," he said. The police department testified in favor of the bill.
Ahern acknowledged that a police officer "would use his discretion," but added, "If offenders chose not to quiet down, you could write a citation real easy."
Ahern introduced the bill after constituents--some of whom are elderly and live in or near summer resorts along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, complained about disturbing noises at night.
The councilman successfully introduced a similar bill last year forbidding mechanically produced noises such as stereo music that can be heard more than 50 feet from their source between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. That bill did not address "human noises," however.
The new ordinance also forbids any noise which "annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety" of county residents. Property owners are responsible for any noise violation on their property.
Many sections of the new ordinance are pulled directly from a 1980 Ocean City ordinance that prohibits loud and unnatural noises and, similarly, holds property owners responsible for those noises.
The Anne Arundel ordinance takes effect 45 days after it is signed by County Executive O. James Lighthizer.
Violators could receive a $100 fine, 30 days in jail, or both.