The Brick Township council on Tuesday night suspended the township’s noise ordinance for the marching bands at Brick Township High School and Brick Memorial High School a week after a controversy erupted when neighboring residents complained about the sound generated by Memorial’s outdoor practices.
The council voted unanimously to suspend the noise ordinance for both bands’ practices, rehearsals, performance and festivals.
“We want the band to play, we want the kids to be involved in this program,” said Mayor John Ducey, who worked with schools superintendent Dr. Walter Uszenski to develop a schedule dictating the ordinance suspension.
Kevin Starkey, the township attorney, said the time aspect of the ordinance will not be suspended, but the sound level portions will. The ordinance’s most restrictive regulations come after 10 p.m.
“The resolution sets forth very specific dates and times that were provided by the Board of Education,” said Starkey.
The dates include times when the band practices, rehearses and performs, according to Ducey. The latest the band will be able to play under the ordinance suspension is 9 p.m. and the earliest time requested was 12 noon.
“This band is very important to all of these children and all of the parents,” said Shannon Christensen, a parent of a student who plays with the Marching Mustangs band. “These are 93 children who could be doing things far worse than standing in a parking lot playing music.”
The suspension of the ordinance effectively ends last week’s controversy. Uszenski said the neighbors who complained last week have long had issues with the band playing outdoors. Previously, he and other officials said, the band forged an agreement with the neighbors that stated they would practice in varying portions of the school grounds so as not to direct all of the sound in one direction, however a scrimmage at the Memorial football field last week forced the band to revert back to an old position which prompted neighbors to call the police department. That resulted in a media frenzy which culminated with Ducey appearing on New Jersey 101.5 radio after a morning show host gave out his phone number.
About 30 band parents from both high schools who attended Tuesday night’s meeting clapped after the vote was taken.
“I’m glad our administrations were able to work together on this,” said Councilman Bob Moore, referencing the cooperation between the municipal government and school district.