Ocean City Today

‘Disorderly’ signs to be up by September

Car event crackdown involves notices and enforcement of new state car exhaust law
By Katie Tabeling | Jul 13, 2017
Photo by: Marjorie Harms Signs warning people that breaking the law is, well, illegal, must be posted on select properties by September in accordance to a forgotten ordinance.

(July 14, 2017) Two years after the original ordinance was passed and largely ignored, numerous Ocean City business owners now have until September to post signs on their properties reminding members of the public that disorderly conduct is illegal.

It is one part of the Police Commission’s plan to crack down on bad behavior during car events.

“This is not a penalty for the businesses. It’ll allow us to work to keep the peace and allow us to have better control during the events,” Mayor Rick Meehan said during Monday’s meeting. “We passed this ordinance, and people forget very quickly until the impact of the events is felt again.”

It was September 2015 that the City Council passed an ordinance that requires all “public places” with parking fronting Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia Avenue, or Coastal Highway, to have signs that say disturbing the peace is against state law.

The measure was passed, according to proponents’ arguments at the time, to help police address unruly car enthusiasts and drivers during the shoulder season events. This was even though state law already gave police all the authority they needed to make disorderly conduct arrests, City Solicitor Guy Ayres advised the council back then.

This year’s Cruisin’ Ocean City vintage car rally, however, seemed to draw larger crowds of nonparticipants than registered attendees. Residents frequently complained of traffic jams, diesel trucks covering the roads with smoke and reckless driving in the four-day period.

The new signs would give police more confidence to approach rowdy hangers-on to knock it off, as well as educating the public, Councilman Dennis Dare said.

“It has three tiers. First, is when they see the sign. The second tier is when the owner enforces the behavior on the property, and the third is when police get involved,” he said.

Business owners that don’t post the sign would be fined $50, and face a $100 fine if they do not comply in 10 days. Under the ordinance, signs were supposed to be installed May 2016, but the commission agreed to push the deadline to Sept. 1. That would predate the H2O International VW/Audi rally on Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 and Endless Summer Cruisin’ on Oct. 5-8.

The commission also revealed that another aspect of the crackdown will include the state’s new ban on “rolling coal.”

“Some drivers modify their diesel trucks to emit a large black cloud of exhaust, and it’s intentional” Capt. Mike Colbert said. “They do it to mess with people, like bicyclists or joggers.”

The law will go into effect on Oct. 1, and is punishable with a $500 fine.

The commission is also considering doubling or tripling fine for violations during hot rod events.

Police Chief Ross Buzzuro added that the department would continue to call on other agencies for assistance during automotive events.

“We’re fortunate to have a partnership with the state police, Worcester Sheriff, and the Maryland Transit Administration,” he said. “Last year was the first time we went beyond the traditional allies and requested assistance from Wicomico and Queen Anne’s Sheriff Offices, and they did a great job for us.”

In exchange, Ocean City supports the visiting officers with free meals or hotel rooms.

“I don’t think it’s be easy to get assistance if we didn’t put something on the table, and Susan Jones with HMRA [Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association] is providing us a lot of support.”


Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.