The 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.