The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday deferred making a decision on the proposed new noise ordinance until its June 23 meeting.
The board held a public hearing on the changes at its regular meeting on Tuesday The new noise ordinance has been formulated to replace interim ones that have been in place since 2013.
“It is the purpose and intent of the proposed Ordinance to recognize that certain noise is a hazard to the public health, welfare, peace, and safety, and the quality of life of the citizens of Fairfax County,” county planners say in a staff report on the subject.
“People have a right to and should be ensured of an environment free from sound that jeopardizes the public health, welfare, peace, and safety or degrades the quality of life.”
If the changes are approved, they will affect everything from lawn equipment to pet noise, including:
Activities on School and Recreational Grounds — Advertise a decibel range of 60 to 72 dBA for limiting the maximum noise level for cumulative noise, when loudspeakers are used.
“People Noise” — Begin prohibition on noise that can be heard in residential districts (read: party noise) at 11:00 p.m. on weekends and the day before a holiday.
Dog Parks — Begin dog park hours at 8:00 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
Animal Noise — Any owner or person in control of any animal that allows or otherwise permits any such animal to “bark, howl, bay, meow, squawk, quack, crow or make such other sound between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. that is plainly audible in any other residence with doors and windows closed” could be in violation. There are exceptions and time rules. Read more details on the updated proposal.
Operation of Power Lawn Equipment — Permit the use of power lawn equipment, except leaf blowers, beginning at 5:30 a.m. for golf course maintenance when located more than 50 yards from a residence.
Some activities are currently prohibited under the interim ordinance and will continue to be prohibited:
Night time (9 or 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.): operation of most loudspeakers, outdoor construction, outdoor motor vehicle or mechanical device repair, outdoor powered model vehicle operation, trash collection in residential districts, and the loading and unloading of trucks within 100 yards of a residence.
The county said it would grant waivers if noisemakers can prove the noise does not endanger the public health, safety or welfare; or quieting the noise would produce
serious hardship without producing equal or greater benefit to the public.
See all changes, exceptions and conditions in this chart from the county.