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Monday, Feb. 07, 2011
Myrtle Beach reviews noise limits
Proposal comes amid lawsuit
By Dawn Bryant - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Drivers might have the chance for their vehicles to get a slight bit
louder in Myrtle Beach.

The Myrtle Beach City Council, which lowered the city's vehicle noise
maximum to 89 decibels as part of a set of rules adopted in 2008 to tone
down the bike rallies, will consider bumping that up to 92 decibels to
match national standards, city officials said. The council will talk
about the issue at its meeting Tuesday.
The proposed ordinance would require that motor vehicles - except for
emergency response vehicles - not exceed 92 decibels when measured 20
inches from the exhaust pipe at a 45 degree angle while the engine is

The city, which is amid a lawsuit over its noise ordinance, said the
change is being considered so the city is in line with standards adopted
by the Society of Automotive Engineers and endorsed by the American
Motorcycle Association.

"What we are doing is conforming" to those standards, Myrtle Beach
Assistant City Manager John Pedersen said. "It's not going to be a real
noticeable shift."

The SAE standards have been around since summer 2009. In fall 2009, the
AMA issued model legislation urging cities to approve the standards.

Myrtle Beach is involved in a lawsuit over its noise ordinance that was
filed in June, saying the city's law interferes with the uniformity of
state law, is pre-empted by state law and is unconstitutional. The suit
was filed by Virginia-based attorney Tom McGrath onbehalf of a local
motel owner, other residents and Horry County and S.C. ABATE groups,
which work to protect motorcyclists' rights.

McGrath also filed a suit that led to the S.C. Supreme Court finding
last year that the city's helmet requirement - also part of the set of
new rules approved to tone down the rallies - wasn't legal because the
state had already ruled that helmets weren't required. McGrath couldn't
be reached Friday.

The American Motorcycle Association, which urges communities to adopt
the SAE standards, can't yet endorse Myrtle Beach's plan to raise the
decibel level because of the pending lawsuit over the noise ordinance,
said Pete terHorst, the association's spokesman.

"It would be premature for us to say we support what the city is doing,"
terHorst said. "We need to see this issue work its way through the
courts. It's hard to know what the court will do."

Sunny Rebbaca Rowan, coordinator of the Horry County ABATE chapter, said
Friday she couldn't comment on the potential change to the city's noise
ordinance until she knew more about the city's plan and consulted with
ABATE members.

In 2008, the city lowered the noise limit from 99 decibels to 89
decibels, city spokesman Mark Kruea said.

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