Annapolis council set to vote on peace disturbance proposal

September 13, 1999|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council, in its first meeting after a month off, plans to vote tonight on a bill to tighten public disturbance laws that downtown residents hope will stop the drunken revelry that often wakes them up when bars close at 2 a.m.

The "Public Peace, Morals and Welfare" bill, which Mayor Dean L. Johnson and Ward 1 Alderman Louise Hammond introduced, will subject rowdy violators to misdemeanor charges, a fine of up to $1,000 and not more than 90 days in prison if convicted. The punishment under current law is a $50 fine.

"Citizens obviously want a reduction in noise, especially in the downtown area and in Eastport," said Johnson, a Republican, who added that he has received many calls from residents eager to see the bill pass. "We've got too much of it. Just this weekend, we had to close four parties in my neighborhood because it was too noisy."

Johnson and Hammond initially wrote the bill to give police power to arrest those "yelling, hooting and hollering" if it unreasonably disturbed peace but the City Council Public Safety Committee struck those specifics after studying the proposed ordinance.

Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, who is on the committee, said she felt omitting the "shopping list" of noises gives police officers more power to stop noisemakers.

"If you put a list in, it's confining," said Moyer, a Democrat who represents Ward 8 -- which includes Eastport. "Many attorneys will tell you, if you have a list, once you have something outside the list, does that count? We've made it a bit more sensible."

Hammond, a Democrat who represents downtown, said she is studying the bill to see whether the changes make it as effective as she had planned before voting on it.

"At this point, I don't know what we're getting that's additional," she said.

The city council will not be voting on two other bills that residents have closely watched.

The council is holding off the vote on Johnson's bill to gradually increase water and sewer rates Jan. 1 so that both would be 62.5 percent higher by 2004. This would be the first water and sewer rate increase in 11 years.

Alderman Herbert H. McMillan's anti-drug loitering bill, which drew protests from several black community leaders in the county and the American Civil Liberties Union, is on the agenda for tonight's meeting, but the council will not vote on it.

Pub Date: 9/13/99

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