Key Points of the Noise Control Program
Effective July 1, 2005, the Maryland Department of the Environment Noise Control Program was de-funded by action of the Maryland Legislature. MDE continues to provide advice to the public concerning noise problems, but as directed by the legislative action, noise issues are being referred to local governments for action.
The Noise Control Program was established by the legislature in the mid 1970's to provide technical assistance and enforcement help to citizens and local jurisdictions across the State regarding noise issues. Noise has become an increasingly contentious "Quality of Life" issue as the State's population increases and urban sprawl progresses. MDE's role is to direct affected parties to the appropriate local government office or, in certain instances, to one of our sister agencies that have the authority and funding to address specific forms of noise pollution. MDE stresses local government involvement, for two main reasons. First, most issues have their origin in local zoning and permitting decisions, and secondly, response to the often brief and variable nature of events can most readily be handled by local responders.
State Law: Environment Article, Title 3 - see www.mlis.state.md.us
State Regulations: Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), Title 26.02.03.
Basic considerations for the application of noise control rules and regulations are provided below for use by local jurisdictions in administering local ordinances:
State noise regulations set maximum intruding sound level limits statewide for three different land uses (industrial, commercial, and residential) for both day and night. The residential limits, which are most often of concern, are:
Daytime (7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) 65 dBA - for residential receiving properties
Nighttime (10 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) 55 dBA - for residential receiving properties
These limits were established as the upper bounds of annoyance acceptance for a majority of people, but were not expected to provide for 100% acceptance by all people. Experience has shown that 50% of the complaints investigated are not found to exceed the limit applicable limits.
Local jurisdictions are encouraged to establish more restrictive standards where circumstances so indicate.
Measurements for determining compliance are generally taken at the edge of the complainant's property. Reasonable consideration is given to the actual use at that location.
Responsible parties should be notified of the violation and instructed to take corrective actions.
Exemptions are granted in the regulations for a number of essential sources, such as emergency warning systems, and activities that cannot be readily abated (construction), are of a short duration (parade), or are of general public interest (sporting events). Details of these exemptions are contained in the regulations and below. Procedures are also established to seek a variance for conditions not specifically exempted.
Examples of common noise complaints include:
- Dirt Bike noise
- Commercial Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Nighttime dumpster emptying
- Loud music from bands; clubs, taverns, bars, restaurants
- Swimming pool pumps
- Early morning (prior to 7 AM) construction noise
- Landscaping and lawn maintenance prior to 7 AM
- Street and shopping center power sweepers at night
- Truck mounted refrigeration units in parking and loading areas
- Off road truck noise
- Gun clubs: nine counties are subject to the noise regulations / 14 Counties are exempt
- Commercial and industrial equipment and machinery
- Loudspeakers at car dealerships, fast food restaurants, swim clubs
- Church bells
- Barking dogs at commercial kennels - MDE does not address household pets
Exemptions from the COMAR noise regulations:
- Emergency sirens and warning signals
- Motor vehicles on public roads (these are addressed by MSP and SHA)
- Aircraft and airports (these are addressed by FAA and MAA)
- Construction noise 7 AM -10 PM, but not to exceed 90 dB(A)
- Boats on State-controlled waters (addressed by DNR)
- Residential heat pumps and air conditioners, but not to exceed 75 dB(A) and 70 dB(A) respectively
- Construction on public property at any time
- Sanctioned auto racing facilities from 7 a.m. to midnight; and
- Parades, public celebrations, amusement parks, sporting events; etc.
State Agencies to Contact for Noise Problems
Noise is addressed in Maryland by a variety of federal, state and local agencies. Some local governments have detailed noise regulations and others have wide-ranging authority for specific noise sources. A few jurisdictions have comprehensive programs that address the full range of concerns.
Workplace noise exposure
Generalized Highway Traffic Noise
State Highway Administration, Office of Environmental Design
Web site: www.marylandroads.com/improvingourcommunity/oed/soundbar.asp
Loud Vehicles on Highway
Motor Vehicle Administration, State Police Vehicle Noise Enforcement Program
Web Site: http://www.mdot.state.md.us/mmcp
Dept. of Natural Resources Natural Resources Police for Enforcement
Web site: www.DNR.state.md.us/nrp
Phone:see website for area number or call 410-260-8888 (24hrs)
Federal Railroad Administration
Web site: http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/home
Maryland Aviation Administration
Web site: www.marylandaviation.com
Noise Zone Land Acquisition Program Information: http://marylandaviation.com/content/communityrelations/noiseabatement/bwinoisezone.html
Phone: (410) 859-7812
Most Other Noise
Most other noise sources had been previously addressed by the Department of the Environment (MDE). Effective July 1, 2005, the Maryland Department of the Environment Noise Control Program was de-funded by action of the Maryland Legislature. MDE continues to provide advice to the public concerning noise problems, but as directed by the legislative action, noise issues are being referred to local governments for action.
Contact: (410) 537-3906 or 1-800-633-6101, x3906