Chapter 654.02 of Loudoun County's Codified Ordinances
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office will begin to enforce changes to the county's noise regulations Thursday, September 1, 2016. The amendments to Chapter 654.02 of the county's Codified Ordinances were recently adopted by the Board of Supervisors. The amendments bring Loudoun into compliance with a Virginia Supreme Court ruling which struck down the noise ordinance for the City of Virginia Beach which was similar to Loudoun's. The court found that enforcement of the law - which declared that certain unreasonable noises are a detriment to the public health, comfort, safety and welfare - was unconstitutionally vague as it relied on a "reasonable person" standard.
No person shall permit, operate, or cause any source of sound or sound generation to create a sound that is audible and discernible in any other person's residential dwelling with the doors and windows to that other person's residential dwelling closed. The amendments exclude some sound generating activities from regulation, including:
- Agricultural operations
- Operations of a public facility
- Parades and fireworks and similar county-approved events
- School-sponsored or organized youth athletic contests or practices, or other school activities
- Sounds from emergency operations such as sirens
- Sounds from places of worship such as bells and chimes
Violations of the noise ordinance range from a Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $500, to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of twelve months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Over the next several weeks the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office will conduct an education phase prior to any citations issued for violations of the ordinance. Warnings will be issued to educate residents on noise levels that are now in violation of the county code. During the education phase, repeat violators may be subject to a citation after their initial warning.
Since the Virginia Supreme Court struck down the noise ordinance of the City of Virginia Beach (which was very similar to the former Chapter 654.02) as unconstitutionally vague, the county has lacked an enforceable ordinance addressing noise. The amendments to Chapter 654.02 establish a clear definition of what constitutes noise, requiring that the sound be audible and discernable inside a residential dwelling.