Noise Ordinance Amendment



 Update:  Recent Activities and Upcoming Events

On February 18, 2014, staff presented the first draft of a new Noise Ordinance (Chapter 108.1 of the County Code) to the Board of Supervisors' (Board's) Development Process Committee.  The overall goal of the proposed Noise Ordinance is to minimize nighttime noise and guarantee residents a certain level of quietness within their homes.  The proposed new Noise Ordinance would replace both the existing Noise Ordinance (Chapter 108) and the existing Excessive Sound Generation in Residential Areas and Dwellings provisions (Article 6 of Chapter 5 of the County Code).  The Excessive Sound Generation in Residential Districts provisions were adopted by the Board on December 3, 2013 and a brief description of the amendment is located here.  Among other things, the new Noise Ordinance prohibits certain noises and exempts certain other noises.  

 In order to obtain feedback on the proposed new Noise Ordinance, the following public meetings were held:

On June 10, 2014, staff presented a summary of all comments received to the Board's Development Process Committee.  At that meeting, the Committee directed staff to prepare a range of options on how the proposed amendment could be advertised to give the Board maximum flexibility given the diversity of opinions and comments on the proposal.  On September 30, 2014, staff presented options to the Development Process Committee and the Committee requested that the options be reduced in scope and noise measurements be taken at high school athletic events.  

At the February 3, 2015, Development Process Committee meeting, staff distributed an updated draft Noise Ordinance amendment and summary chart and requested guidance on several issues.  These included activities on school and recreational grounds, weekend hours for dog parks, "people noise," golf course lawn maintenance, trash collection, and maximum sound levels in residential districts.  The Committee endorsed the updated draft amendment as proposed by staff, with a few modifications, and directed staff to bring the proposed amendment back to the full Board for authorization to advertise a public hearing.  With the understanding that additional modifications to the staff proposed amendment can be made as part of the public hearing process, the Committee recommended the following modifications to the staff proposal for advertising purposes:

  • Activities on School and Recreational Grounds -- Advertise a decibel range of 60 to 72 dBA for limiting the maximum noise level for cumulative noise, when loudspeakers are used.
  • "People Noise" -- Begin prohibition on plainly audible standard in residential districts at 11:00 p.m. on weekends and the day before a holiday.
  • Dog Parks -- Begin dog park hours at 8:00 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
  • Operation of Power Lawn Equipment -- Permit the use of power lawn equipment, except leafblowers, beginning at 5:30 a.m. for golf course maintenance when located more than 50 yards from a residence.
  • Trash Collection -- No changes to current proposal.
  • Maximum Sound Levels -- No changes to current proposal.

Accordingly, staff will bring the proposed Noise Ordinance amendment to the Board in early spring for authorization to advertise, with the anticipated date of a public hearing to occur in May 2015.

Background

The Board has requested staff to review and revise the Noise Ordinance to better address the methodology used in noise measurements, considering the appropriateness of establishing daytime and nighttime noise levels to protect the community and, add other objective criteria to regulate noise within Fairfax County.  On December 3, 2013, the Board adopted a new Article 6 of Chapter 5 of the County Code (Excessive Sound Generation in Residential Areas and Dwellings) which gave the Police Department the ability to address certain sound that is generated in a residential dwelling or residential area that is plainly audible and discernible inside another person's dwelling with doors and windows closed.  The recently adopted Article 6 was intended to be an interim step in addressing noise, until more comprehensive amendments to Chapter 108 were considered by the Board.  The proposed amendment is in response to these requests.

Related Documents

Additional Information

If you wish to speak with someone regarding this amendment, please contact the Ordinance Administration Branch of the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314.


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