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City Council Moves to Protect Beauty Sleep

City council says no to early morning lawn mowing and cracks down on solicitors.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday to push back the time city residents can mow their lawn or use other such equipment to 9 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

City code officials initially proposed minor changes to clarify the city code, which Code Compliance Supervisor Steve Roberts said was confusing to some residents.

But some members of the City Council balked at the permitted 7 a.m. start time on weekends.

“Am I the only one that thinks someone starting a lawnmower at 7 a.m. is a wee bit early, particularly if it’s my neighbor,” said Mayor G. Frederick Robinson when the ordinance was discussed earlier this month.

The council agreed, voting Monday to move the start time to 9 a.m on weekends.   

The ordinance permits the use of lawn care equipment, snow removal equipment, household tools and portable appliances on Saturday and Sundays between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Residents will be permitted to use such devices from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday.   

Household generators are permitted for use during emergencies. Testing and routine maintenance of the generators can take place between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Solicitors Must Be Licensed, Can Go Door-to-Door until 7 p.m.

Some door-to door solicitors in Bowie were getting around license requirements by claiming they were not selling a product or a service, but offering what they would describe as a free home survey or other free services, according to Roberts.

The most frequent offenders, Roberts said, were home improvement companies.

The City Council adopted an ordinance Monday that will require those solicitors who say they are not selling a product or service to be licensed.

“We believe their ultimate intent is to sell their product after the free home inspection has been conducted and therefore should be licensed with the city,” Deutsch wrote in a memo to the city council last month.

Solicitors must have a county-issued identification card as well as a city ID, Roberts said. There are some exceptions. Civic organizations, for example, are exempt, Roberts said.

Solicitors may go door-to-door between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

In other business:

The Council approved a resolution allowing the State Highway Administration to plant trees on 41.6 acres at four different sites in Bowie to replace trees removed during the construction of the Intercounty Connector by planting trees elsewhere on public lands. The sites include: land on Route 214 at Queen Anne Bridge Road, Collington Manor, Pope’s Creek and Glen Allan.

The Council waived bidding requirements to contract with a Boston-based energy management company that will provide an incentive program for the city to take its facilities off-line during peak periods of electric use and rely on generator power. The city—which had previously worked with another company for the past two years—could earn an estimated $94,500 for the coming summer season.

The City Council is sending a letter to U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), along with Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Donna Edwards (D-MD) urging them to help restore $150 million in Metro funding, cut from a House spending bill. An estimated 10 percent of Bowie's 58,000 residents use public transit to get to work, the letter states.

Joe Neighbor March 24, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Please Murphy. I would never do that. At least, not before 9am on weekends and 7am on weekdays. If you don't mind me asking Blue and Murphy, what is warranted in your opinion? 8am, 7am, no noise ordinance at all?
Uncle Blue March 24, 2011 at 08:23 PM
Joe, have not stated this, but appreciate the respectful dialogue back and forth. To answer your question, if it must be legislated, I would suggest an 8am restriction. Picking hairs between 8am and 9am reminds me of the inane argument over what's better, the 6 minute abs workout or the 7 minute abs workout. I'm not sure what bothers me more, the government intrusion or the time chosen. I notice the golf course, with some of the greenest and lushes grasses in the area, routinely cut their grass at dawn - dew and all. Will this restriction apply to Fred Ryder? I wonder aloud if the mayor and council would support creating an ordinance that prevented my neighbor's dog from barking before 9am. That mutt is much more offensive than their Toro. To your suggestion that I am anti-city, that is not true. I love this city. I am however, anti-big government.
Joe Neighbor March 24, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Uncle. I don't mind the city telling me that I shouldn't mow my lawn before 9am and that my grass shouldn't be 1 2 inches long. I'm fine with that. I also have faith that the city is not out to get anyone, and I don't expect an enforcement officer to be standing over my lawn with a watch at 8:59am on a Saturday morning. I also don't expect them to install sound monitors on light posts to catch offenders. Although I'm not fortunate enough to own a snowblower, I would still use it at 6am if I had to, and I don't agree with the city's restriction on snow removal equipment. The need to use a snowblower in Bowie is so infrequent, and if people have to get to work, people have to get to work. I see that as different than mowing the lawn. I think being in city government is at time thankless. If there's no ordinance, people will say, "that jerk shouldn't be aloud to do that!" And if there is an ordinance, people say, "how dare they tell me I can't mow my lawn at 7am!" I think the best option is to have an ordinance in place, and enforce it sparingly. Most people will figure out how to get along by themselves, but the ordinance is in place if they can't.
pgcoresident March 25, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Joe your comment brings to mind a question. What hours do the code enforcement officers work? Are they even going to be around to enforce this? I mean, they can hardly issue a citation based simply on the word of a complaining neighbor..
Joe Neighbor March 28, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Good question, pgcoresident. I don't know when they work. I imagine they would have to see someone in action in order to issue a citation. This speaks to my earlier point. Although the code can be enforced and fines levied, I think the main purpose is to provide guidelines for residents to follow. And most residents will probably follow the rules.

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