OCEAN CITY -- The Town of Ocean City is seeking the dismissal of a federal civil suit levied in April on behalf of a street performer alleging the town’s 30-foot noise ordinance on the Boardwalk is unconstitutional.
On April 10, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit in federal court on behalf of violinist William Hassay, Jr. challenging the town’s noise ordinance, specifically recent changes to it, is an attempt to silence musicians. In the suit filed against the Mayor and Council and acting-Police Chief Michael Colbert, the ACLU alleges the enforcement of the town’s 30-foot noise ordinance on the Boardwalk infringes on Hassay’s, and other performers’ fundamental right under the First Amendment to engage freedom of speech and expression in a public forum.
Last year, the Mayor and Council approved an ordinance setting the acceptable limit on noise in any form on the Boardwalk to 30 feet. Essentially, the ordinance was directed at several Boardwalk merchants who habitually play loud music from speakers on their stores, but caught up in the fray were the numerous Boardwalk street performers and musicians whose music often extends beyond the set 30-foot limit.