Voices From The Readers
Regarding your recent article talking about our show, I feel that you have a biased view of it and a little insight to our side of the story is necessary. I understand that your readers are locals because you are an Ocean City paper, but when you write an article about an "Internet organized event" you are going to get backlash when you post it on the internet especially to a show entering its 15th year at the same venue.
To start off, our show is not a rally. We do rally down to your show with groups like the Dagball Rally from the Tristate NYC region, and the Longball Rally from the northern Midwest, but H20 International is known as the "laid back" Volkswagen/Audi Show, where we come down to the gorgeous city and see some great cars and people that share our passion.
We also do not organize anything within Ocean City officially. Any so-called meets are unofficial although they might be planned out. Enthusiasts with similar cars or engines will meet from Friday to Monday at several locations and talk about their cars with similar owners during different times. For example there is a Newborn/Expecting mother meet where all the enthusiasts with or expecting children meet, grouping together the next generation of our passion. The only scheduled official Shows are Saturday & Sunday at in previous years Ocean Downs, and now at the Catholic High School in Berlin.
Also to our descriptiveness and "lack of respect" according to Mr. Betten, I will gladly admit that with certain people it can get out of hand. But to defend ourselves even according to your article the city brings in extra law enforcement from surrounding jurisdictions during bike week, so apparently we are not that bad. I know I have also heard of accidents and deaths during the Muscle Car show as well. As for the street racing, to my knowledge there is no organized racing and I know event organizers would frown upon it because we all agree its ridiculous. I understand we will speed and see who has more power or speed in there car but not outright race that is incredibly stupid. The wet roads i'll also admit led to drifting during this past year which also people need to stop, like the guy who crashed into the condo on Saturday night. We all understand that there are a few bad apples that we wish wouldn't come and ruin the show for the rest of us, but there are other groups that use your city that have a worse reputation, I personally feel it is due to the age of most of our group that we take most of the beating.
Lastly what I know is getting most of us furious about is the Convention Center. We were given permission to use the Center for the weekend by BOTH Ocean City PD & Convention Center Staff. The rules to this were we had to leave by 2A.M., that way we had a centralized location and did not have to worry about being on public property, we had to clean up after ourselves and no alcohol was allowed. All reasonable rules and in return we were given the lot with lighting left on for us until our 2A.M. time limit, per OCPD Sgt. Smith.
Our show in your city is honestly, to the majority of us, our favorite show, and it is not likely to change. It is one of the most popular on the east coast. We will return and most likely continue to grow. Should the city try to ban us or restrict our favorite weekend you would likely lose a large amount of business, I know we dump money into Ocean City that weekend, and local businesses (Burger King across from the Carousel has a deal if you bring in the key to your VW or Audi you get free menu item & they do it every year) make special promotions just for us. It is unfortunate that locals don't favor us but you will have a lot of angry enthusiasts if the feud persists. I know when cars were keyed early in the week before the show people wanted to get violent.
Orange County, New York
H20 Event Threatens Family Atmosphere
Since expressing my concerns about the H2O International event in Ocean City, I have seen quite a few comments from the participants and I feel it important to respond and clarify the concerns.
First of all, let's address the notion that Ocean City wants to "get rid of H2O." I do not believe I suggested that, nor did I hear that in the responses from our mayor and council. I believe my request was to work with the organizer of the event and the OCPD to better control the crowds this event brings to our city.
Next there are the obvious comparisons to Bike Week and Cruisers. I'll admit, I'm never thrilled about those events either, but at least I know our city has embraced those events such that they are taken into account when scheduling other events and the town works with the organizers to properly prepare for them.
I also don't see the same level of destruction during those events. My condominium association does not have to pay for extra cleaning services to pick up masses of litter and clean urine and vomit from our property, our security guard does not have to deal with out-of-control, disrespectful crowds into the early morning hours, and we don't get near as many complaints from our owners about their behavior.
I realize that it may be a small percentage of the participants in this event that cause the majority of trouble. However, as the event continues to grow, that element will grow with it. My goal in expressing my concerns to the mayor and council was to get the conversation started about how to work with this event. When an event brings such a large number of people into a city, you simply cannot turn a blind eye to it. We made the decision to live in a tourist town...Ocean City, a proclaimed family-friendly tourist town. We just want to preserve that family-friendly and safe environment OC is known for and needs to remain. Proper planning is required to provide that environment for both the tourists visiting our city and the residents who live here.
Ocean City, Maryland
South Point Weighs In on Newark Test Range
Because I am not a full time resident of Worcester County some issues come to me with a slight delay, but since I do own a home and property in South Point, I felt compelled to respond to the Worcester County Board of Zoning Appeals approval of Hardwire, LLC's military explosives testing in Newark.
It was reported in your paper on September 16th, that Hardwire CEO George Tunis, had testified "the largest explosives used at the site would only generate about 181 decibels, which is comparable to a rifle shot." I find his testimony and statement somewhat disingenuous. 181 decibels (dB) is considerable louder than a rifle shot. In fact it is louder than a jet engine at a distance of 100 feet.
According to Galen Carol Audio's, Decibel (Loudness) Comparison Chart, a rifle shot, as well as a jet engine 100 feet away, both produce a loudness reading of 140 dB. The largest Hardwire explosion would be 41 dB louder.
The Galen Carol Audio chart goes on to state that human hearing perceives an increase of 20 dB as being four times louder than the original sound. At 181 db, everyone who hears the Hardwire's explosion would perceive that explosion as 8 times louder than the jet engine or rifle shot. More concerning is that human hearing tissue begins to suffer permanent damage at 180 dB. OSHA rules only permit employee exposure to 15 minutes a day when sound levels exceed 115 dB.
As a former radio station engineer, I have some experience with sound levels, their mitigation and their potential for hearing damage. Therefore I would submit that the Zoning Board does not fully appreciate just how loud these explosions will be.
All loudness citations taken from Galen Carol Audio, Decibel (Loudness) Comparison Chart, http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html
Frustration, Shock Over Test Range
Concern, frustration, and shock are a few words to describe my feelings concerning the go-ahead for Hardwire of Pocomoke to use county land on Langmaid Rd, Newark MD, to test its manufactured armor with twenty five pounds of dynamite per test.After reading several articles and letters to the editor, these facts and thoughts have arisen.
Each test involves using 25 pounds of explosives. Some of the commissioners believe the explosion will sound like the crack of a rifle. According to George Tunis, owner and CEO of Hardwire, as quoted in the Worcester Times, Sept. 15, 2011, "I'm not going to sugar coat it. It will sound like a clap of thunder." This is a far cry from a hunting gun with a bullet or a few drams of gunpowder. In addition, the sound could carry for miles. Internal county documents say the testing location is screened by hundreds of feet of dense woods. This is a laughable statement in favor of noise protection, since on a clear day, approximately two miles (10,560 feet) from the existing test site, my husband and I can hear the police practicing their shooting accuracy with fire arms. Small pistol cracks versus twenty five pounds of detonated dynamite multiple times through the year - Think about it - Big difference.
We moved to Newark, MD to escape the noise and chaos of Ocean City. If this approval continues, how many times will the tests occur? Hugh Cropper IV states, "This is merely an extension of what's there now." Yes, our house shakes and our windows rattle about twice a year. Now, we know why. This quote from a newspaper article says, "There will be no more than two major tests and six minor tests a day and a maximum of two days of testing per week." This is not a mere extension but a mighty extension compared to a few tests a year. When bomb testing a few times a year began on this site a number of years ago, far fewer people lived here, and many say they were never notified that this was to take place. With the dualization of Rt 113, the population in the middle of the county will likely increase. This would increase tax income for the county, but maybe not. Who wants to move to an area that has dynamite detonation periodically throughout the year? I would think real estate salespeople and developers looking to the pristine area of middle Worcester County will suffer or hesitate to ever consider this area for sales and development. It will certainly devalue the existing property.
Newspaper articles claim the explosives cannot exceed twenty five pounds. What if the buyers of Hardwire's products want more proof of indestructability? The present use of this land as a firing range was an approved exception to the county code. Now they have okayed an exception to that exception. Will fifty more pounds of dynamite be needed to prove the value of the hardwire product? Another exception. More tests needed? Another exception. An increase in demand for this product will mean more products, more bomb testing and more noise. When is enough ever enough? The approval of this testing will set a precedent that may haunt all concerned for years to come.
The Langmaid Rd county property is within an RP district where "development potential is severely limited" and the goal of the zoning is to "maintain the environmental functionality of the landscape by avoiding or minimizing disturbance of a sensitive area." (Daily Times, Our View, 9/12/2011). The bomb testing of Hardwire's product in this area is contrary to this definition of that zone. After all, RP stands for Resource Protection.
This testing is for the assurance of bomb-proof materials for the military, other law enforcement agencies and private industry. This testing should be done on a military base or other appropriate site far away from flora, fauna, and residents and where experts have the knowledge to deal with this issue. From what I have read in the paper, Worcester County does not have a qualified expert to monitor the effects of these bombings on the environment, nor the hazardous wastes that could accumulate at the site. Do the commissioners actually believe placing top soil over the test site will prevent air, water, and land contamination? What are the by-products of dynamite after detonation? This test site is too close to the bay, estuary borders, Assateague Island, and many residential homes.
Finally, what scientific, environmental impact, or hazardous material studies have been presented to the county government, Mr. Norman Conway, and the citizens to prove beyond a doubt that no environmental threat exists? It is my understanding that there were no studies or valid research of this issue presented at the Sept. 8, 2011 public hearing. Mr. Mike McDermott's description of the lone eagle still flying over the present firing range after multiple firings is not scientific proof of no- fault bombing. Multiple dynamite explosions are far different from small arms fire. The citizens of Worcester County deserve testimony on decibel levels of dynamite testing, chemical analysis of explosive residues, animal life habits before and after bomb testing, marsh grass health, aquatic life quantity and quality, then all persons can make a fair and balanced decision.
Surely the Hardwire Product is valuable in our country's fight against terrorists and for our military's safety. Yes, it does create jobs and help our economy. This can continue to be so, but the testing for military safety should be done on military property or other appropriate land with much more acreage far removed from delicate ecosystems and families.
Personally, considering all the opposition to this issue, I hope George Tunis, CEO of Hardwire, will withdraw his request to use this pristine inhabited area for bomb tests. It is the decent thing to do. Also, I hope the commissioners will consider withdrawing their approval if this is legally possible. There are too many unknowns. Everyone I have spoken to is shocked that this testing was approved. Finally, thank you to Commissioner James Purnell for voting against this exception to the zoning.
BZA, Planners Hear About Displeasure
The following letter was addressed to the Worcester County Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals and forwarded to the Dispatch for publication:
Re: Hardwire, LLC - Special Exception 11-49
I attended the Board of Zoning and Appeals (BZA) hearing on September 8, 2011, on a petition for an exception, on behalf of privately-owned Hardwire LLC, to the Worcester County Resource Protection Zone's approved uses to allow for the operation of a military-grade explosive test site on publicly owned property on Langmaid Road in Newark. Hardwire LLC will conduct these tests exploding 25 pound bombs (at this point; perhaps larger ordnance in the future).
The tests will be conducted regularly several days a week, each week, all year long. I was amazed at the complete lack of outside, independent and impartial expert testimony, either live or submitted in writing for the record, that night. Such an unprecedented and historically important a departure from standard permitting in this county requires much more due diligence by the commissioners than was given.
To me, this is a very unwise decision affecting the long-term health and viability of the county, not to mention Worcester County residential property values. While the tax base may be improved by some increased business tax revenues and some job creation, it will be offset by the greater loss of tourists and new residents.
Property values and tourist business dollars could plummet. After all, ask yourself, Who wants to vacation or live anywhere near a bomb testing facility, for heavens' sake? Would you? I certainly would not and my buying and tourist dollars would go elsewhere, to another county or another state where appropriate land usages are valued and protected. There are options for Hardwire to go elsewhere, where land has already been set aside for just such explosives testings, e.g., Aberdeen Proving Grounds, and other such sites already in existence. Therefore, I urge you to reopen the records of the September 8, 2011, hearing with the BZA and Mr. George Tunis, Hardwire CEO, to allow for additional evidence and testimony to be presented at a future hearing.
The citizens of Worcester County deserve the right to hear more information concerning this action taken by the BZA. Citizens were not given this opportunity before the hearing as there was little "heads-up" notice to them before the hearing took place, making it almost impossible for citizen research and for solicitation of experts. Without further information, I am opposed to this approval for Mr. Tunis to use Worcester County property for his private military testing.
Ann M. Augustine