New Noise Ordinance Takes Effect Feb. 17

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There’s a new noise ordinance on the books that will silence things like loud late night parties and early morning leaf blowing. The regulations will become law on Feb. 17, 2016.

The Board of Supervisors approved the new county code today. The code replaces the previous noise ordinance, along with interim rules passed while a more comprehensive set was crafted.

While the code is new, the regulation of noise isn’t. We had very similar rules in place before, but they had to be rewritten as a result of a Virginia Supreme Court decision.

The rules also follow the principle that noise should limited at night but allowed during the day.

The New Rules

The law prohibits noises during specific hours, including:

Loudspeakers/Amplifiers
Noise Heard in Other Homes
Power Lawn Equipment
Fixing Cars
Collecting Trash
Loading/Unloading Trucks
Dog Parks
Animal Barking, Howling, Etc.
Athletic Fields

The new noise law also sets maximum decibel levels for residential, mixed use, commercial and industrial areas.

Some noises are excluded from regulation, including generators used in emergencies, snow removal, cars on the road, Metro trains and police or fire sirens.

 

Filing Complaints

For complaints, here’s who to contact:

  • During daytime hours (Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Friday 9:15 a.m. – 4 p.m.), you should contact the Department of Code Compliance at 703-324-1300, TTY 711.
  • At night, call the Police Department’s non-emergency number, 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

To enforce the law, the county may seek civil and criminal penalties against violators, as well as court orders to prohibit current and future noise. Civil penalties start at $250, rising to $500 for subsequent offenses. Criminal convictions would be a misdemeanor.

 

Why Is There a New Ordinance?

We undertook an overhaul of noise rules due to a Virginia Supreme Court ruling. The court ruled against the City of Virginia Beach’s nuisance noise provisions. Their rules based enforcement on a subjective, “reasonable person” standard, instead of decibel measurements. Because Fairfax, along with other Virginia governments, used similar criteria, the county rewrote its law.

For more information or details on the new rules, visit the Department of Planning and Zoning’s Noise Ordinance Amendment web pages or call 703-324-1314, TTY 711.


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