Unruly social gatherings bill on track for expansion

By Nick Rynes
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

The Baltimore County Council is considering a bill that would expand the geographic area in which unruly social gatherings would be prohibited.

The bill, which was discussed by council members on Tuesday and is scheduled to come up for a vote next week, allows police to issue citations not only to the host of a loud, unruly party but also to the owner of the building where the party occurred – even if the owner is not on the premises at the time of the incident.

Bill 2-17 amends legislation that took effect on Feb. 1, 2016, that was designed to cut down on loud parties that contained excessive and underage drinking in the communities surrounding Towson University and UMBC.

The two-year pilot program created in the original bill covered East Towson near Towson University and an area of Arbutus near UMBC. The amended bill would expand the area covered by the unruly party ban to West Towson, the Rodgers Forge community, Loch Raven Village and the Knettishall community.

Several members of community associations affected by the original bill came out to the council meeting Tuesday to support the amendment.

“This bill has not been 100 percent perfect, but it has had a positive effect on the communities, and we’ve had only one address with repeat violations since bill was put into effect,” said Paul Hartman, the past president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations.

Hartman noted while speaking to the council that in August 2015 there were 21 complaints of excessive noise in the coverage area of the original bill. That number dropped to only three complaints in August 2016.

Another community association member in attendance was David Riley.

“This bill has definitely stabilized and improved the community around Towson,”  Riley said.

In a recorded interview before the council’s work session, Riley stressed that the bill was not put in place to go after Towson University students. Riley said he is a Towson alum and his wife is a professor on campus. He also stated that a major key to this bill was holding the landlords accountable as well.

County Council Chairman Tom Quirk said the original pilot program has been working well. No other council members or citizens in attendance were opposed to the amendment.

If approved at the council’s Feb.21 meeting the bill would take effect on March 6.

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