Noise Ordinance Amendment
New Noise Ordinance
Adopted on 11/17/15
On November 17, 2015, the Board of Supervisors adopted a new Noise Ordinance, repealed the existing Noise Ordinance, and repealed the Excessive Sound Generation in Residential Areas and Dwellings Ordinance. These amendments become effective on February 17, 2016. Until that time, the existing Chapter 108 and Article 6 of Chapter 5 remain in effect. The delayed effective date provides time for staff training, the update of relevant County websites, and the preparation of information items to assist staff in understanding the new regulations. The Board also directed staff to monitor the effectiveness and impact of the new Noise Ordinance for an 18-month period after its enactment.
One of the issues that arose prior to the adoption of the Noise Ordinance pertained to the use of loudspeakers at Fairfax County public high school events and practices. In response, on September 17, 2015, the Directors of Student Activities from the public high schools adopted the Public Address and Amplification System Guidelines.
The new Noise Ordinance is in response to the Board's request to review and revise the Noise Ordinance to better address the methodology used in noise measurements, consider the appropriateness of establishing daytime and nighttime noise levels to protect the community, and to add other objective criteria to regulate noise within Fairfax County. The overall goal of the new Noise Ordinance is to:
- Recognize that there will always be certain levels of noise that occur in the normal course of daily living;
- Allow certain levels of daytime noise so that people can live, work, and play during the day; and
- Minimize nighttime noise so residents have an appropriate quiet environment in their homes at night.
The overall framework of the new Noise Ordinance is to:
- Prohibit certain activities (prohibitions);
- Exclude certain activities from the Noise Ordinance (exceptions); and
- When not specifically prohibited or excepted, then activities or sources of sound would be subject to maximum decibel levels.
The above framework is further qualified by time, location, and duration limitations. A summary chart of the applicability of the New Noise Ordinance has been prepared. Some of the most common sources of noise complaints are included under the following numbered lines on the chart:
2. Outdoor Construction
5. Trash Collection
7. Outdoor Truck Loading and Unloading
8. Lawn Equipment
10. Noise from vehicles (not on road right-of-way) and noise made by people
16. Motor Vehicles on the Road
19. Heat pumps, air conditioners, and swimming pool pumps
24. Activities on Recreational Grounds
25. Dog Parks
The Department of Code Compliance (DCC) and the Police Department are primarily responsible for enforcement of the Noise Ordinance. To determine how to make a complaint regarding noise, please see the summary chart and information below.
- DCC investigates complaints of noise when it is regulated by decibel level and/or when the noise occurs on a regularly occurring basis, such that it can be identified during a scheduled inspection. DCC is not "on call" to respond to noise complaints, but schedules an inspection within a few days of the complaint.
If a noise violation is found, DCC issues a Notice of Violation, which provides responsible parties with a certain timeline to comply. Failure to comply with a Notice of Violation could result in legal action to seek civil penalties or injunctive relief.
To make a complaint to DCC, call 703-324-1300, TTY 711.
- The Police Department investigates complaints of noise from animals, people, motor vehicles and/or instruments (which includes any device which produces or amplifies sound, such as a radio) that is plainly audible and discernable in any other person's residential dwelling with the doors and windows closed. The Police Department can also respond to complaints regarding noise occurring at a prohibited time of day. But, unlike DCC, the Police can respond to a noise complaint while the noise is occurring, such as at night, early morning, and the weekends. The Police Department does not respond to complaints regarding noise regulated by decibel level.
If a noise violation is found, the responsible party will be notified of the violation and directed to comply. Failure to comply could result in criminal prosecution.
To make a complaint to the Police Department, call the non-emergency number, 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
- The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) investigates complaints concerning trash pick-up outside of the allowable hours. If a trash or recycling truck is loading or unloading materials in your residential neighborhood before 6 a.m. or after 9 p.m., they are in violation.
To make a complaint to DPWES, call 703-324-5230, TTY 711 during office hours (8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday). If possible have information about the truck such as company, color, truck number, license plate number, etc.
- Adopted Chapter 108.1 (Noise Ordinance) - effective 2/17/16
- New Noise Ordinance Applicability Summary Chart
- Repealed Chapter 108 (Noise Ordinance) - effective on 2/17/16
- Repealed Article 6 of Chapter 5 (Excessive Sound Generation in Residential Areas and Dwellings
- Public Address and Amplification System Guidelines
- Adopted Noise Ordinance Presentation
If you wish to speak with someone regarding the Noise Ordinance, please contact the Ordinance Administration Branch of the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314.