Noisy Parties May Soon Be a Crime in Fairfax County

Fairfax County Police

Having a holiday party that could get a little loud?

That may soon be a misdemeanor in Fairfax County.  The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. Tuesday to consider a new noise ordinance that will allow police to file charges if necessary, according to Board of Supervisors’ documents.

Fairfax County has a longstanding policy that certain audible and discernible sounds are a serious hazard to the public health, welfare, peace and safety and adversely affect the  quality of life of its citizens,” according to Board of Supervisors’ documents. “Fairfax has historically addressed the concern of “nuisance noise” in the County.  However, in April 2009, the Supreme Court of Virginia, in the case of Tanner v. City of Virginia Beach, ruled that Virginia Beach’s ordinance was unconstitutional, which raised possible concerns about the constitutionality of the ‘nuisance noise’ provisions.”

Although the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning is currently working on a comprehensive revision of Chapter 108, excessive sound generation in residential areas is an issue that requires more immediate redress. Accordingly, this addition to Chapter 5 (Offenses) is necessary as an interim solution to allow the Police Department  to effectively respond to calls for service regarding excessive sound or sound  generation in residential dwelling areas.

Fairfax County Police say they received an average of 152 calls per month for loud parties in 2012.

The addition of Article 6 to Chapter 5 (Offenses) should allow the Police Department to temporarily enforce these types of sound violations.

“As the holiday party season nears, it is recommended that language in the County Code be in place to address loud party complaints from residents, among other sources of  excessive sound, that may adversely impact the quality of life of its residents,” the proposal states

The main proposed rule  — “No person in any residential dwelling or residential area, including the common areas of multifamily dwellings or mixed use structures, shall permit, operate, or cause any source of sound or sound generation to create a sound that is audible in any other person’s residential dwelling with the doors and windows to the other person’s residential dwelling closed. In addition, the source of sound or sound generation must be discernible regardless of whether such doors and windows are closed.”

Included in the prohibitions: Use of a loudspeaker or other amplifier between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.; repairing a car outdoors between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.; trash collection near homes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and power lawn mowing between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

There are lots of exceptions, including  noise from cars, heat pumps and emergency vehicles.

To see the full agenda item, visit the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors website. The item begins on page 371.

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