[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of Warren County 5-7-1990; amended in its entirety 9-21-2010. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
For purposes of this chapter, unless otherwise required by the context, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:
- A-WEIGHTED SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL
- The sound pressure level as measured on a sound level meter using the A-weighted scale and programmed to slow response. The level so read shall be designated dB(A) or dBA.
- The sound pressure level as measured on a sound meter set to slow response and to the A-weighted scale to approximate the frequency response of the human auditory system.
- Any mechanism which is intended to produce or which actually produces noise when operated or handled.
- LAV (dBA)
- The average A-weighted sound pressure level measured over a reasonable period not less than five minutes.
- Any sound which may cause or tend to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on human beings.
- NOISE SOURCE
- Any equipment, motor vehicle, motorcycle or facility, fixed or movable, capable of emitting sound beyond the property boundary of the property on which the equipment is used, but not including motor vehicles or motorcycles operated on public rights-of-way.
- A temporal and spatial oscillation in pressure, or other physical quantity, in a medium with internal forces that causes compression and rarefaction of that medium, and which propagates at finite speed to distant points.
- SOUND LEVEL METER
- An instrument to measure sound pressure levels which shall meet or exceed performance standards for a Type 2 meter as specified by the American National Standards Institute.
- SOUND PRESSURE
- The instantaneous difference between the actual pressure and the average or barometric pressure at a given point in space.
It shall be a violation of this chapter for any person, without compelling reason, to make noise that by reason of its volume, pitch, duration or repetition, considering the time of day, is likely to disturb the rest of any person of ordinary sensibilities or interfere with such person's lawful and peaceful enjoyment of property owned or rented by him.
No person shall be charged with a violation of this section unless that person has received verbal, electronic or written notice from any law enforcement officer of Warren County that he is violating or has violated the provisions of this chapter and had an opportunity to abate the noise disturbance.
The following acts, among others, are declared to be noise disturbances in violation of this chapter, but said enumeration shall not be deemed to be exclusive, namely:
Blowing horns: to sound any horn or signal device in any other manner or circumstances or for any other purpose than required by the laws of the state.
Racing engine: to race the engine of any motor or all-terrain or motorcycle vehicle while such vehicle is not in motion, except when necessary to do so in the course of repairing, adjusting or testing the same, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Use of vehicle: operating any motor vehicle, including any all-terrain vehicle or motorcycle or engine, stationary or moving instrument, whether on public or private property, not meeting the standards of Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia pertaining to mufflers and exhaust systems.
It shall be unlawful for any person to use any device for the production or reproduction of sound which is cast upon public streets or lands for the purpose of commercial advertising.
Radios, phonographs, etc. The using or operating of, or permitting to be placed, used or operated, whether in a building, structure, motor vehicle or otherwise, any radio receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph or other machine or device for the producing or reproducing of sound in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of the greater of either the property line of the property on which such set, etc., is being operated or used or 50 feet from said set, instrument, phonograph, machine or device, if not located in a building, structure or vehicle or 50 feet from the building, structure or vehicle in which it is located or through partitions common to two persons within a building shall be a violation of this chapter.
Exhaust noises: the discharge into the open air of the exhaust of any steam engine, stationary or moving, or internal combustion engine, motorboat or motor vehicle, except through a muffler or other device which will effectively prevent unreasonably loud or explosive noises therefrom. For purposes of this section, "muffler" is defined as an apparatus consisting of a series of chambers or baffle plates designed for the purpose of transmitting gases while effectively reducing sound emanating from such apparatus to a reasonable level.
Construction or repairing of buildings: the erection, including excavating, demolition, alteration or repair, of any building or structure between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., except in case of urgent necessity in the interest of public health and safety, and then only with a permit from the Building Official, which permit may be granted for a period not to exceed three days or less while the emergency continues and which permit may be renewed for periods of three days or less while the emergency continues.
Pets: allowing an animal to create howling, barking, whining, meowing, squawking or other such noises which are plainly audible across a property boundary or through partitions common to two residences within a building and that take place continuously or repeatedly during a period of at least 15 minutes in duration between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. or during a period of at least 10 minutes in duration between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.; provided, however, that animal noises on property subject to a conditional use permit for a kennel shall be governed exclusively by § 180-49 of the Warren County Code.
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate, or permit to be operated, any noise source in such a manner that the noise source emits a sound pressure level which exceeds the limits set forth below when measured on property other than that on which the noise source is located. The category of applicable sound pressure limits shall be determined by the zoning district classification of the property on which the noise is measured, not the property on which the noise is produced.
Bona fide agricultural activities, practices, tilling, orcharding, raising of livestock or poultry and farming, including but not limited to bona fide agricultural exhibitions and fairs open to the general public whether for an admission fee or otherwise, and the operation of equipment, machinery, tools, devices or apparatus in connection with such activities, practices, etc., are hereby expressly exempted from the provisions of this chapter.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to activities or uses permitted under the provisions of issued conditional use permits in force and effect where the noises and sounds generated by such activities or uses are addressed and controlled by the provisions of said conditional use permits. Before any conditional use permit shall be issued concerning a use or activity creating or causing such a noise or noises as would cause such use or activity to be in violation of this chapter were it not for the provisions of said permit, the Board of Supervisors shall make a determination that the potential danger or disturbance to the community is outweighed by the benefit to the public interest by permitting such use or activity.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to activities or uses conducted within the corporate limits of the Town of Front Royal.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to the emission of sound for the purpose of alerting persons to the existence of an emergency or the emission of sound in the performance of emergency work.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to noise caused by or arising out of activities related to repair, maintenance, replacement or alteration of public utility systems, public drainage systems, or street or highways, and appurtenances thereto, where such activity is reasonably necessary to further a public safety interest and/or to minimize disruption in the provision of public services.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to noise, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., emitted from activities related to the construction, repair, maintenance, remodeling or demolition, grading or other improvement of real property, which noise is customarily emitted from such activities.
Editor’s Note: This ordinance also redesignated former Subsection F as Subsection G.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to the following matters during the daytime (7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.):
Noise emitted from gardening, lawn care, tree maintenance or removal and other landscaping, which noise is customarily emitted from such activities.
Noise emitted by an activity at a school, church or park, which activity has been conducted with permission of the persons lawfully in charge of such school, church or park, which noise is customarily emitted from such activity.
The Sheriff of Warren County or his deputies or other duly empowered law enforcement officers, including the Animal Warden where the alleged violation of this chapter is due to noise generated by an animal, shall administer and enforce this chapter with all the rights and authority provided for in this chapter. Any said officers shall have the authority to make any necessary inspection, with the consent of the owner, occupant, operator or agent, to enforce any provisions of this chapter, whenever any such officer has reasonable cause to believe that there is a violation of this section. If any owner, occupant, operator or agent fails to allow or refuses free access and entry to the premises where a noise source is located, or any part thereof, with respect to which an inspection authorized by this chapter is sought to be made, any such officer or the County Administrator or his duly authorized agent may, upon a showing of probable cause to believe a violation of this chapter is being or has been committed, secure a search warrant or petition and obtain from a court of competent jurisdiction an order authorizing such inspection.
Responsible person. The person operating or controlling a noise source shall be guilty of any violation caused by that source. If that cannot be determined, any owner, tenant, resident or manager physically present on the property where the violation is occurring is rebuttably presumed to be operating or controlling the noise source.
Abatement of violation: If the violation is uncorrected at the time of a finding of liability on a civil summons or conviction on a criminal summons, the court shall order the violator to abate or remedy the violation in compliance with this chapter. Failure to remove or abate a violation within the specified time period shall constitute a separate Class 3 misdemeanor, and such failure during any succeeding ten-day period shall constitute a separate Class 3 misdemeanor offense for each ten-day period.
Injunctive relief. In addition to and not in lieu of the penalties prescribed in this section, the County may apply to the Circuit Court for an injunction against the continuing violation of any of the provisions of this chapter and may seek any other remedy or relief authorized by law.
Civil penalties. The provisions of this chapter may be enforced by the law enforcement officers designated in § 123-6 through the issuance of civil summonses assessing civil penalties which shall not exceed $250 for each first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense, each day of violation constituting a separate offense; provided, however, that civil penalties shall not be assessed in connection with business being performed on industrial property or the operation of railroads.
Criminal penalties. The provisions of this chapter may be enforced by the law enforcement officers designated in § 123-6 through the issuance of criminal summonses; provided that no officer shall seek both a civil and a criminal summons for any violation of this chapter. Any person found guilty of violating any provision of this chapter shall be convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor with a fine up to $500.