Noise ordinance not recommended

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A proposed noise ordinance in Charlotte County is not recommended by the Charlotte County Planning Commission.

“ …The planning commission did do some research on that issue. They reviewed ordinances from a number of adjacent localities (and) also discussed enforcement issues with the Sheriff here. They also contacted the towns regarding the status of their ordinances and then worked with our County Attorney as well,” said County Planner/Purchaser Monica Elder.

She said the primary findings were that noise ordinances usually contain a number of exemptions.

The exemptions included industrial/agricultural uses, public events and other permitted activities.

In light of this, she said lots of potential noise issues could be exempt from the ordinance.

Elder said enforcement could also be problematic because noise levels must be measured on sight by enforcement officials at the time they occur.

She also said a lot of ordinances the Commission reviewed included Virginia State Code §48.1 being referenced.

“ …That section provides citizens the opportunity to address nuisances through the Commonwealth when five or more citizens file a complaint with the local circuit court,” said Elder.

Based on the findings, the Planning Commission did not recommendation the adoption of a noise ordinance at this time.

“It is their opinion that such an ordinance may have unintentional long term impacts …” said Elder.

According to the code section, “when complaint is made to the circuit court of any county, or the corporation court of any city of this Commonwealth, by five or more citizens of any county, city or town, setting forth the existence of a public or common nuisance, the court, or the judge thereof in vacation, shall summon a special grand jury, in the mode provided by law, to the next term of such court, to specially investigate such complaint.”

At an October meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, the possibility of a noise ordinance was discussed after Drakes Branch residents Yvonne and Timmy Dix expressed concerns regarding noise in close proximity to their property and the necessity of ordinances within the county.

She said her family and their neighbors were being subjected to the acts of a nuisance neighbor, “who has capitalized on the lack of ordinances within the county … to bully us.”

The problems started Aug. 4.

At that time, Chairman of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors Gary Walker said it was decided the best way to handle the matter would be to send it to the Planning Commission to start considering the possibilities of what could be done, if anything.

“So I think rather than taking up the board’s time doing research, allow the Planning Commission as an advisory committee to this board to do the research (and) look at what other counties are doing …” said County Administrator Daniel Witt, at that time.

Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Donna Fore asked Elder if the issue would be revisited in the future?

Elder said from the Planning Commission’s standpoint, the provided recommendation is not to introduce a noise ordinance.

She said a lot of surrounding counties do have noise ordinances, but a lot of them are very dated.

“And even though all those other counties had noise ordinances, we still thought our county did not warrant one?” …” asked Fore.

Elder said the Planning Commission felt like the ordinance was being created to address one specific issue and might carry long term impacts.

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Pierantoni said the impacts could affect farmers who use equipment such air cannons for farming purposes.

“So if we adopted a noise ordinance, in this case … then we would hurt the farmer’s that have a legitimate need,” said Pierantoni.

Red House/Cullen Supervisor Nancy Carwile said the Planning Commission also talked about putting time restraints on the proposed ordinance, however, “farmer’s don’t work from sun to sun anymore …”

Fore said she has someone is her district that also has a problem with a noisy neighbor.

“I’m personally disappointed for my district and the citizens of my district …” she said.