The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office will begin to enforce recent changes to county’s noise regulations on Sept. 1. The amendments to Chapter 654.02 of the county’s Codified Ordinances were adopted by the Board of Supervisors following a July 13 public hearing.
The amendments prohibit some noise based on time of day or duration of sound. For example, music may not be plainly audible and discernable 100 feet or more from the sound’s source during a private party or other similar non-governmental event between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. A horn or alarm on any motor vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, or other vehicle on a street or in a public place cannot be sounded for more than 20 consecutive seconds except as a danger warning or as permitted by law. Also, spinning of tires and racing of engines in a motor vehicle or motorcycle are prohibited, as the noise created by the absence of a muffler.
The amendments exclude some sound generating activities from regulation, including agricultural operations; sounds from places of worship such as bells and chimes; sounds from emergency operations such as sirens; parades and fireworks and similar county-approved events; operations of a public facility; and school-sponsored or organized youth athletic contests or practices, or other school activities.
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 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Over the next several weeks the Sheriff’s Office will conduct an education phase prior to issuing citations for violations of the ordinance.
The changes were prompted by a Virginia Supreme Court ruling that struck down the noise ordinance of the City of Virginia Beach, which was similar to Loudoun’s rules, as unconstitutionally vague. Since then, the county has lacked an enforceable ordinance addressing noise.
The Board of Supervisors also is considering changes to the Noise Standards section of the county’s Zoning Ordinance. Unlike the noise regulations enforced by the Sheriff’s Office, the Zoning Ordinance primarily regulates noise from commercial and other non-residential uses. The board is scheduled to take action on the proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment on Sept. 22. More information is online at loudoun.gov/NoiseZOAM.