Following passage by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors at its July 13 public hearing, the county Sheriff’s Office will begin enforcing changes to local noise ordinances on Sep. 1. These changes codify bans on:
- Music from being plainly audible and discernible within 100 feet or more from a sound source during a private event or non-government function between 11:00 p.m. and 7 a.m.
- A horn or alarm from any type of motor vehicle, bicycle or other type of vehicle for more than 20 consecutive seconds, except as a danger warning or as permitted by law
- Engine racing in motor vehicles as well as noise emissions for cars without mufflers
Some notable exceptions to the changes include:
- Agricultural operations
- Sounds from places of worship, such as bells or chimes
- Emergency operation vehicles like ambulances
- Parades, firework displays and other county-approved events
- Sounds from operations at public facilities
- School sponsored or organized athletic contests, events or practices, as well as other school activities
“I’m very happy that we now have a codified noise ordinance that will be able to be enforced which should help eliminate some of the problems constituents across the county have been experiencing,” said Algonkian District Board of Supervisors member Suzanne Volpe.
The impetus for the new ordinance began with a lawsuit in Virginia Beach, which the Virginia Supreme Court to declare the city’s noise ordinance unconstitutional because it was too vague. Many local governments statewide, including in Loudoun, had similar ordinances, so the County needed to change its code to make it more quantifiable.
Violations can range from a Class 3 misdemeanor and a maximum fine of $500 to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. During the next few weeks the Sheriff’s office will issue warnings instead of citations for violations of this ordinance to help educate residents about the changes, though repeat violators may be subject to a citation after their initial warning.
The Board of Supervisors will also consider changes to the Noise Standards sections of the county’s Zoning Ordinance, which regulates noise from commercial and non-residential uses, at its next business meeting on Sep. 22.
Volpe said there has been little opposition to the changes.
“Especially after you’ve been living without a noise ordinance for a few years, people realized you need to have one,” Volpe said.