On The Coast: A Beach Town Debates The Meaning Of Noise | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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On The Coast: A Beach Town Debates The Meaning Of Noise

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Business owners and police in Dewey Beach will be using hand-held meters to keep track of noise levels this summer.
Business owners and police in Dewey Beach will be using hand-held meters to keep track of noise levels this summer.

How, exactly, do you define noise? It's a topic on the minds of many people in Dewey Beach as of late. The community is well known for its live music and boisterous bar scene, but earlier this month, the mayor and town council voted to reduce the allowable noise levels to 70 decibels during the day and 60 at night.

Jim Dedes, chairman of Dewey's ad hoc committee on noise, says it's a much-needed change.

"There's no way you can sleep with your windows open at all, and let alone with your windows closed, you can still hear the music and the bass, says Dades. "It vibrates into your home. So it's become an issue."

Dedes says Dewey had been getting an increasing number of complaints from residents, so the town asked seven people to form a committee to look at the problem.

"One of the questions I'd asked was, what is a reasonable bass level?" says Dades. "Well, there's no answer; no one's ever measured it."

Business owners who could face fines or even lose their business licenses if they fail to comply, say the new restrictions are unreasonable.

Mitchell King, co-owner of Port restaurant in Dewey Beach, says a group of people having a normal conversation outside at night would be breaking the 60-decibel rule.

"We have an outdoor deck, and if people are out there and enjoying themselves, it's over 60," says King.

He says many businesses have already made accommodations to reduce noise levels, and he thinks this dispute could fundamentally change the resort.

"Older people that have come into this town, they should have been forewarned, 'Hey, Dewey's a party town,'" he says. "Dewey Beach, it's a way of life. It's been legendary for fifty-some years."

But Dedes says no one wants to hurt local businesses.

"A warning is really what we're looking for," he says. "We're trying to work out a balance for the community and the businesses. We don't want a dead community either. We just don't want it exceed a level that makes it so uncomfortable for people that you don't want to be here anymore."


[Music: "Sea of Love" by TW from Brawlers / "Let's Get Loud" by The Baseballs from Strike!]

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