Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Noise ordinance review
Changes to the county’s noise ordinance are up for discussion after a public hearing flopped on Sept. 8. Residents who attended the public hearing were confused with what the changes would be because there was no documentation at the meeting for them to review. Then there was discussion that two of the county’s largest districts are exempt from any noise ordinance, but there was no map to show where these areas are. Supervisor Emmitt Marshall wanted to make sure his property was still exempt from the ordinance, and it is.
The chief change is the use of the word "plainly audible" when talking about dog barking. Plainly audible means any sound that can be detected by a person using his or her
unaided hearing facilities. As an example, if the sound source were a portable or personal
vehicular sound amplification or reproduction device, the enforcement officer need not
determine the title of the song, specific words, or the artist performing the song. The detection of
the rhythmic base component of the music is sufficient to constitute a plainly audible sound.
If the dog bark is plainly audible from inside one’s home, then the dog owner is in violation.
All references to felonies for animal abuse was removed because County Attorney Jacob Stroman says the county does not have the authority to punish felony crimes.
Noise from animals: It shall be unlawful for any person to allow within the county barking or other noises to be made by any animal under his ownership or control, so as to be plainly audible within a residential dwelling of one (1) or more members of the community for more than two cumulative hours during any twenty-four (24) hour period, provided, however, this section shall not apply to the following: Those portions of the Berkeley and Livingston Districts which are located both south of the Norton Prong Creek and Po River, except (1) within the Meadowview Estates Subdivision and Taverneer Subdivision within the Berkeley District, (2) subdivisions or developments within the resort residential zoning district and (3) subdivisions or developments with an average lot size of one and one-half (1.5) acres or less.
For the purpose of this section, a person shall be deemed to have "allowed" his
animal to bark which are plainly audible within a residential dwelling if he has once been put on notice by the county a sheriff’s department deputy or the an animal control officer warden after upon the complaints of two (2) persons who are not members of the same household, or upon the complaint of one (1) person if there are no more than two (2) households within seven hundred fifty (750) feet of the property line of the noise source, lodge a complaint alleging a violation of § 4-16 and the person thereafter fails to confine such animal inside his dwelling unit or other enclosed structure or take other action to terminate such disturbance. It shall not be necessary for the sheriff’s department or animal control officer warden to issue a new notice for each repeated occurrence. A violation of this section shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor. Each instance shall constitute a separate offense. Third or subsequent violations shall constitute a Class 2 misdemeanor.