Harley dealership takes legal action on noise ordinance

6 08 2010

By Shir Haberman – Hampton Union

NORTH HAMPTON, ME – August 6, 2010 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – The town’s new motorcycle noise ordinance will not be enforced until after a Rockingham County Superior Court judge rules on the merits of a request for an injunction filed against the town by Seacoast Motorcycles Inc., a Harley-Davidson dealership located on Route 1.

“The ordinance will remain unenforced until we have a hearing,” Town Administrator Steve Fournier said on Wednesday.

After discussions with the dealership’s attorneys, the town’s legal counsel, with the consent of town officials, decided not to fight the request for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the noise ordinance, said Fournier. A letter from Matthew Serge of the law firm of Upton & Hatfield LLC, which represents the town, confirmed that decision.

“Please note that counsel for Seacoast Motorcycles Inc. did file a stipulation on behalf of both parties allowing the court to grant a preliminary injunction,” Serge wrote in an Aug. 3 letter to Fournier. “This order prevents the town from enforcing its motorcycle ordinance pending a final hearing and decision.

“My next step is to draft an answer to the complaint, which must be filed by Oct. 7, 2010,” Serge wrote.

Fournier, who received a draft copy of the proposed filing in late July, said the town’s decision not to enforce the ordinance did not have a bearing on the dealership’s decision to move forward with its legal action.

“The situation (concerning the enforcement of the ordinance) might change at any time,” Fournier said in July. “(Seacoast) may want to have an injunction in place before that.”

The Seacoast petition to the court indicates the dealership’s feelings that this ordinance is not good for the public or for its business. The document makes the argument that controlling motorcycle noise in New Hampshire lies within the purview of the Legislature. Just last session lawmakers rejected proposed legislation that, like the North Hampton ordinance, required motorcycles to have an EPA label on their exhaust systems.

“Despite the fact that the ordinance itself does not refer to noise levels, it clearly is an attempt to replace the state’s noise level limit of 106 decibels with a lower noise level in the town of North Hampton,” the dealership’s filing reads. “The ordinance basically bans motorcycles from the town if they do not have an EPA label on their exhaust system (symbolizing that at the time of manufacture the system generated 80 decibels of noise) even though the motorcycles comply with the state’s noise limit of 106 decibels.”

Seacoast claims its business would suffer if this ordinance was enforced. It claims that because EPA labels do not appear on replacement systems, “The ordinance has the effect of making the majority of Seacoast’s entire used motorcycle inventory (normally about 70 vehicles) illegal.”

The dealership also claims its business would suffer because it would be “prevented by the ordinance from servicing a large portion of the motorcycles that are in operation because the owners of the motorcycles without the EPA label could not drive through the town to get to Seacoast for service work on the motorcycle,” the petition indicates.

The document also argues that “if a municipality is allowed to assert control over the noise level of a vehicle, the result could be a checkerboard-pattern of ordinances adopted by the various towns in the state,” the document reads. “That result would be chaos to the traveling public.”

Fournier said the town is still awaiting word from EPA regional attorneys about whether a federal requirement can be enforced by a municipality.

The noise ordinance was passed by a substantial majority at the May 11 town elections. It was to go into effect 60 days after passage, but based on legal opinions received by the town — and Police Chief Brian Page’s reluctance to enforce the ordinance based on those opinions— no summonses have been issued under this new law.

SOURCE: Hampton Union

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2 responses

9 08 2010
bill case polaris

they can let those loud exhaust systems on motorcycles that go right by houses that are very close to the main roads, and the snowmobiles that have most trails far from houses illegal to have loud exhaust anymore. when i am tring to talk to customers at my business and hear loud motorcycles going past my dealership i have to stop talking and wait for the motorcycles to past by, which is annoying.

9 08 2010
jim

We wouldn’t have these problems If it wasn’t for the stupid/drunk motorcycle owners who decided that full throttle with baffleless exhaust or modified exhaust at 2am or from stop lights so they can think others think they are kool is their right! I have a aftermarket exhaust on my bagger and it’s not loud unless i make it loud, which I don’t! Todays exhaust is just like a gun, it doesn’t cause a problem until the stupid human factor is added! The more I hear these type of people, the more I’ll vote for these laws, and all I can say is these laws are going to start showing up in all states and towns faster than anyone will realise!

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