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New Noise Ordinance in Effect in Fairfax County

22 February 2016 No Comment

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted a new noise ordinance on Nov. 17, 2015, but it did not take effect until Feb. 17, 2016.

The board also repealed both the existing Noise Ordinance and the Excessive Sound Generation in Residential Areas and Dwellings Ordinance.

The time it took to put the ordinance in effect allowed for staff training, the update of relevant county websites and the preparation of information items to assist staff in understanding the new regulations.

The staff will also monitor the effectiveness and impact of the new ordinance for an 18-month period.

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;

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);

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.

Some of the most common sources of noise complaints are included under the following:

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

11. Animals

16. Motor Vehicles on the Road

19. Heat pumps, air conditioners, and swimming pool pumps

20. Generators

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.

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.

By: NOVA Fortnightly Staff

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