The last time Ocean City tried to keep it quiet on the Boardwalk …

The popular resort of Ocean City could take one step closer toward a new ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor to make too much noise on the Boardwalk.

Tuesday, the town council is scheduled for the second reading of an ordinance that would amend Ocean City’s noise code.

Under the plan, based on a noise study by outside consultants, noise would be limited to 75 decibels along the Boardwalk south of 12th Street  — the more congested part of the walk — during the daytime and 65 decibels at night.

North of 12th Street, the limit would be 70 decibels during the daytime, and 60 at night.

However, Ocean City has been challenged before on previous attempts to limit Boardwalk noise, in hopes of maintaining a reasonable noise level for homeowners.

In 1975, a group of 11 street performers, including a puppeteer, balloon artist, magician, ventriloquist, artists and musicians sued Ocean City, saying the restrictions and conditions required to perform on the Boardwalk at the time — which included advance sign-ups, a lottery, and specific performance locations — violated their First Amendment rights.

A federal judge agreed that the town’s regulations “were facially unconstitutional,” and the Court barred Ocean City from enforcing them. The lead plaintiff was awarded $200, the others were awarded $100.

WTOP is seeking comment from Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan on the constitutionality of the proposed ordinance.

The noise ordinance would provide exemptions for “Sound emanating from duly permitted and/or authorized municipal or municipally sponsored public celebrations, parades, events and concerts.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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