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Hold It Down Out There: Supervisors Approve New Noise Ordinance

by Karen Goff December 4, 2013 at 10:45 am 9 Comments

Dog Park at Baron Cameron ParkThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new noise ordinance on Tuesday, but several Reston residents spoke up saying the noise wouldn’t aid them as they dealt with barking from a nearby dog park.

The supervisors passed the ordinance, which would allow police to ticket a resident with misdemeanor charges if neighbors complain about noise.

Fairfax County Police said they received an average of 152 noise complaints a month in 2012.

The county had been operating without a noise ordinance for four years after a 2009 Virginia Supreme Court ruling that ruled a Virginia Beach law banning any “unreasonably loud, disturbing and unnecessary” noise was unconstitutional. Fairfax had a similar ordinance, and while it was not thrown out, it was not enforced.

But with potentially raucous parties coming up in the holiday season, the new ordinance was voted into place.

“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 stated.

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.”

A first offense would now be a Class 3 misdemeanor that could come with a fine of not more than $500.

Residents who live near Baron Cameron Park — the site of Reston’s off-leash dog park — says the rule does not go far enough because while they can hear dogs barking, the noise is technically not in their neighborhood.

The supervisors said that the rule will be revised further, with dog barking and industrial noise to be addressed.

  • LaurieTD

    Is this rule based on a model that has been in use elsewhere? If so, where? Has it proved to be enforceable and to handle the problem well? No need to reinvent the wheel.

    • Karen Goff

      Not that I know of.

  • Biker Sherlock

    Wow. That wording leaves quite a bit to be desired. Not only can anyone complain about a dog barking at a squirrel, but leaf blowers etc also fail to meet the test of not being audible in a neighboring dwelling with the doors and windows closed. I suppose that all depends on which noise is deemed ‘necessary’ but I know of Reston residents who have had their dogs’ voice boxes punctured so they can no longer bark due to complaints by neighbors (a truly sick procedure which robs the dog of a large part of its essence). The threat of a $500 fine will make it all that much easier for a disgruntled neighbor to sick the law on your dog barking at that squirrel. Never mind that part of owning a dog is that we want it to bark at strangers walking in and around our yards.

    It will be interesting to see how the pedants of Reston who love to write anonymous complaints to RA will be using this new ordinance. Sounds like another great step to building community bridges in our quaint society of retired hall monitors…

  • Charles Melissa Owusu

    So your telling me if someone is watching a movie in their home and they have surround sound and you hear it in your house they can fine you for that? This is totally ridiculous I live in a town home and my neighbors always have their surround sound on and I can hear it just fine , they can call the PD on them if it may vibrate an or something like that? Not that they would because I have really good neighbors they are kind enough to go to that person first if there is a problem before calling anyone. Which this is how it should be done but 90% of the people choose to just call PD or their local Association on that person instead. This is going to be very difficult and cause way to many problems. Specially in town homes, condos and apartments. When they start building new building around here they should make sure each one is sound proof from now on.

  • Laura Ramon

    I thought the folks in No. Reston totally loved that dog park, they were all going crazy that their most favorite thing in the whole wide world was the dog park and “boo-hoo if we build a new RCC facility we’ll lose our dog-park” — wait are you saying they DON”T like the dog – park either?! WTH?!! Were they making that stuff up?!!

  • Max

    The dog park closes at dusk. Who the hell is home all day to complain about a few dogs barking? Maybe we should of complained when they tore down all those woods and built luxury houses up there in North Point? Look at all those cars rumbling and making all that noise. Maybe I should call when their kids come in with their radios blasting rap music when school lets out.

    • RERSRESQ

      I’ve never complained about the barking but the dog park was not part of the master plan when I bought my home, you call a “luxury house.” My home was there long before the planners changed their mind about the park. Why have a planned community if you don’t stick to the plan?

      • Max

        My home was here long before they tore down the entire area know as North point. it was all woods with no houses. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Reston lost it’s “master plan” years ago.

        • RERSRESQ

          The master plan always included building homes in North Point, but didn’t have a dog park, but are you suggesting your home was going to be one of only a few in North Reston? This was “the city in the country;” not “the country in the country.” BTW, I lived in North Point when it was only woods. That’s when I studied the master plan to see what was planned around my neck of the woods. But, I never expected my early arrival to dictate how other people’s property was managed. I did expect Reston to adhere to its plans for its general lands. I trust you see the difference?

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