EDITORIAL: Put another dime in the Glen Rock jukebox
The stage was set when the Glen Rock Borough Council backed down from protecting their neighbors from nuisance noise.
If former Councilman Joshua Corney can blast taps from loudspeakers on his property every night, then it’s only fair that all residents can force their musical tastes on neighbors — just as loud, just as often.
How about some Baha Men (“Who Let the Dogs Out?”) or Spice Girls?
Love it or hate it, it doesn’t matter — although if you hate “Spiceworld,” that must mean you don’t appreciate it enough and need to hear it much, much more often.
No? Doesn’t sound reasonable?
Then let us tell you what we really, really want.
How about a little more respect and consideration between neighbors?
Corney, a lieutenant commander in the Navy, has been playing a recording of taps from his Glen Rock home nightly for about two years now. Last spring, he added pole-mounted loudspeakers at his property that make the music audible throughout the borough.
After complaints from neighbors, the borough council ordered him to play once a week and on "flag holidays," such as July 4, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
That seemed like a reasonable compromise to us, but it didn’t last long.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania threatened to sue the borough if Corney wasn’t allowed to play his music.
As a result, the council agreed to suspend outstanding violations against Corney while negotiations continued, and he resumed his nightly ritual.
One idea was to play taps from the Glen Rock Park, which would move “the source of the sound away from complainants,” according to Council President Doug Young.
That was in July.
With little apparent progress toward a solution, one of Corney’s neighbors has taken to exercising his own rights.
Since Sept. 30, Scott Thomason has played various music — Spice Girls, Baha Men, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Aqua — from his home about 10 times, all at the time Corney played his recording.
“We have nothing as loud as (Corney plays),” said Thomason, who said his tunes come from a hand-held speaker in his yard.
Keep in mind, Thomason is a Navy veteran himself, and he probably doesn’t need patriotism lessons from Corney any more than Corney needs a nightly reminder about the awesomeness of '90s music.
Thomason said he doesn’t like doing it, but he has already complained to Corney and the borough council, and nothing has been done about the music.
“What other recourse do we have?” he asked.
One resident has already called the police because of Thomason’s music, but he said he’s going to keep playing it — although he might switch to religious music next and get a more "permanent fixture" to help share it.
Guess what? The ACLU says Thomason is perfectly within his rights, too.
“The First Amendment doesn’t discriminate … as long as he’s not playing louder than the other noises tolerated by the borough, he’s within his rights,” Pennsylvania ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak said.
One thing is clear: Walczak doesn’t live between Corney and Thomason.
Also, the borough council really needs to work on a better noise ordinance, which is not inherently unconstitutional.
If borough officials are worried the current one won’t pass legal muster, they need to change it.
Not only is it possible to craft a fair and reasonable noise rule that can withstand a court challenge — other municipalities have done it — it’s necessary to keep the peace.
A hands-off approach isn't going to cut it in this case.