For what does the bell toll? A surfer's $572
BELMAR, N.J. » How serious is Belmar about cracking down on noise after dark? Just ask Joseph Palermo, who was fined $572 for letting a woman ring the bell on his bicycle.
Of course, it was 1:45 a.m., and he already had been warned by police twice to stop.
"I just think it's funny that they can do that," said Palermo, a 22-year-old surfer from Kapaa, Hawaii, who is spending the summer working on a scallop boat based in Brielle and is staying with friends in Belmar.
But the borough is strictly enforcing its quality-of-life ordinances, particularly those dealing with late-night noise, which has consistently been the top complaint of year-round residents.
Palermo pleaded his case in municipal court on Wednesday and was ordered to pay a $539 fine, plus $33 in court costs.
"I hope I can pay," he told the Asbury Park Press for yesterday's newspapers. "Otherwise Belmar's police, they're going to come looking for me. I guess money talks, and my money is saying goodbye."
The fine stemmed from a July 22 incident outside a local bar during which police asked him twice to stop ringing the bell on his bicycle. But when an attractive woman asked if she could ring it, Palermo said he agreed.
He was promptly issued tickets for noise violation and disorderly conduct.
Municipal Court Judge Dennis Lavender seemed amused by Palermo's defense.
"That's a first," the judge said, offering some advice: "Don't ring that bell to get girls."