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A noisy neighbor v. neighbor case in Marysville

Marysville resident J. Maryon on Jan 27.
Marysville resident J. Maryon on Jan 27.

By Jim Bloch

It’s neighbor versus neighbor in Marysville and it looks like the aggrieved party will remain aggrieved.

The issue unfolded over two city council meetings.

J. Maryon approached the council on Jan. 27 during the citizens-to-be-heard portion of the agenda and requested an update of the city’s noise ordinance.

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“I have an issue with a neighbor of mine,” said Maryon. “This goes back a couple of years when they purchased a new vehicle that has remote start. When you hit the remote start, it would beep, beep, beep, beep. My neighbor would get up at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, or earlier, and it would wake me up. Trying not to create an issue with him, I spoke to one of the police officers and he was good enough to go over to the house and ask the neighbor if he could refrain from doing that.”

Maryon said there were no more problems in 2018 or 2019.

“Then last month, it started up again,” Maryon said. “I spoke with the police department and they informed that it’s not really in their jurisdiction to go out to private residences and ask people not to use their remote control to start the car.”

Could the city do anything to help him?

The city responded to Maryon at its regular meeting on Feb. 10 and its short answer was no.

“I’ve checked with other city managers across the state and we’ve checked with Mr. (city attorney Allen) Francis’s office as well, and to our knowledge there’s nothing that can be done on something like this,” said City Manager Randy Fernandez. “Unfortunately, this is something that’s neighbor to neighbor. We don’t all work the same shift… There’s no ordinance we could make because of that one act.”

The attorney weighed in, too.

“I spoke to Chief (Tom ) Konik about the issue,” said Francis. “In 2017, then-Governor Snyder changed the law. It used to be you couldn’t warm up your car with keys in it in your driveway. They’ve now rescinded that. You can now warm up your car with keys in it in your driveway. That same statute actually allows for you to warm up your car on a public street as long as you use a remote starter. So you get into the issue of whether the state has already said you can use a remote starter. The feature of the horn beeping is ubiquitous with the remote starter. I’m not aware of any city that’s used a noise ordinance to prosecute this type of matter.”

The issue quickly becomes complex, involving the beep following the locking of the car, for example, and the intent of the car starter, said the attorney.

Disturbing the peace is considered to be “loud, boisterous and vulgar behavior,” said Francis. But trying to use that against the vehicle starter in court, and making it stick, would be difficult, perhaps impossible, he said.

Councilmember Dave Barber said he explained the city’s response to Maryon, and he accepted it.

“I certainly feel for him,” said Barber. “Nowadays it’s tough to go over and knock on your neighbor’s door and say we have a problem because you don’t know how the person’s going to act… And I do know, as we get older, if you’re woke up a 5 o’clock in the morning, that’s usually the end of the night.”

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