New Fairfax Noise Rules Set Limits on Parties, Lawn Care and Dogs

Lawn Mower/Credit: M01229 on FlickrBetter wrap up that raucous party by 11 p.m. Under a new Fairfax County noise ordinance passed on Tuesday, you could face civil or criminal charges if the neighbors complain.

After more than a year of discussion, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday finally passed a new ordinance that gives guidelines on how noisy citizens (and their pets) can be before neighbors have a legitimate complaint.

“This may have been one of the most challenging things we have dealt with in the development process,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova. “I thought we would never get to this point, with competing views and complaints all over the place.”

The new code replaces an interim code, which was adopted in 2013 after a Virginia Supreme Court ruling forced change to all noise codes.

At public hearings last spring, residents had concerns about acceptable noise levels and the methodology to measure them in new noise rules that cover everything from garbage collection to loudspeakers to lawn mowing. The Supervisors deferred decision until staff could better examine the methodology of measuring noise.

Supervisor Jeff McKay said Tuesday the new regulations will still have issues for trash collection, and that there is inconsistency among school loudspeaker systems.

“Not all not all [FCPS] schools get new PA systems,” he said. “Some of our schools are way closer to [homes] than other schools in the county. I hope the schools go down the path in making systems consistent and noise levels are controlled.”

Some of the new regulations include:

Making noise that can be plainly heard in another person’s home with the doors and windows closed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, or between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and the day before a federal holiday.

Using dog parks Monday through Friday before 7 a.m. or after dusk or before 8 a.m. or after dusk on Saturday, Sunday or the day before a federal holiday.

Barking, howling, meowing, squawking or quacking animals between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. when it can be heard inside a home with its doors and windows closed, or if these sounds can be heard 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. for more than five minutes consecutively or non-consecutively during a 10-minute period.

Collecting trash or recycling within 100 yards of a residence between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The operation of leaf blowers is prohibited between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Noise from athletic fields is permitted between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, or between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday or the day before a Federal holiday. However, loudspeaker use remains prohibited between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Using a loudspeaker or amplifier between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

See a full list on Fairfax County’s website.

Violators of the ordinance can face both criminal and civil penalities. Criminal penalties for violation, a Class 2 misdemeanor, can be include jail time (up to six months) and/or a $1,000 fine. There can also be civil penalties of $250 (and $500 for subsequent offenses).

Some noises are excluded from regulation, including generators used in emergencies, snow removal, cars on the road, Metro trains and police or fire sirens. Citizens and businesses can also apply for temporary waivers.

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