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K.G. supervisors make some noise over proposed ordinance

Two King George County supervisors wanted to hear for themselves how loud live music can get before it violates the county’s proposed noise ordinance.

So, John LoBuglio and Ruby Brabo did their own surveys on a rocking Saturday night.

LoBuglio visited both restaurants at Fairview Beach, where two live bands were playing. Brabo created her own concert in her living room, where her husband and daughter regularly “rock out” on guitar and drums.

Both had sounds checked on devices that measure decibel readings, or the level of noise that is generated, and none of the noises violated the ordinance.

“My husband thought I was being ridiculous,” Brabo said. “But seriously, how would it look to pass a noise ordinance and have the supervisor’s home be the first one to be cited?”

In her living room, music made by Robert and Clara Brabo was so loud that the supervisor couldn’t talk with the King George deputy who brought his decibel meter to her Chatham Village home.

But outside, the noise level was well under what was allowed in the ordinance, even though windows were open.

“That gave me a sense that I didn’t have to be too concerned, if people were just going about their daily business,” Brabo said.

LoBuglio shared his findings with Fairview Beach residents and patrons, who feared the noise ordinance would cut into their party time on the weekends.

“They felt like it was going to have a devastating effect on their way of life and being able to operate and have live music down there,” he said. “I spent an adequate amount of time addressing every one of their concerns.”

Under King George’s proposed ordinance, the acceptable noise level would be 75 decibels or under between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the level would drop 10 points, to 65 decibels.

Certain noises are exempt, such as sounds generated during parades and sporting events, as well as those made at the Navy base in Dahlgren, the King George Landfill and from electrical power and transmission lines.

Residents can share their comments about the ordinance at a public hearing on May 7—and probably will make a lot of noise, considering the reactions supervisors have received.

As reported in The Free Lance–Star on April 4, a dishwasher or washing machine generates about 75 decibels—if a reading is taken right next to it.

But noise dissipates, especially from inside buildings to the outside, said Terry O’Toole. He’s president of the Fairview Beach Residents Association, and he designs high-end video and audio systems.

“I understand sound, backwards, forwards and upside down,” O’Toole said.

He went with Supervisor LoBuglio on the tour of Fairview Beach restaurants. With a meter similar to what King George deputies will use, he measured decibels at the restaurants’ property lines—which is where readings will be taken.

They were in the acceptable range, O’Toole said.

LoBuglio told other supervisors that the only places the decibels exceeded the proposed ordinance were on the deck of Tim’s II at Fairview and close to the fence line at Rick’s on the River at Fairview Beach.

LoBuglio said he reassured the Fairview Beach restaurant owners that the county wasn’t trying to hurt business. Nor was the ordinance aimed at any one part of King George.

Yet in August, when the board was discussing its proposal, two Fairview Beach residents said noise sometimes got so loud from the restaurants that windows and wall hangings in nearby houses shook.

O’Toole acknowledged things sometimes got too noisy in the past. He believes restaurant owners are willing to turn down the volume.

He said the ordinance is fair to those who come to Fairview Beach for music and fun—as well as those who don’t want to hear it.

“You can still have live music, you can still have fun down here,” O’Toole said. “You just can’t shake peoples’ windows with it.”

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

 

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