Noise has been an issue in Lunenburg

Published 8:51 am Monday, December 28, 2015

Peace and quiet may be the image of rural areas like Lunenburg, but the county and one of its towns have been busily working on noise ordinances.

County Attorney Frank Rennie presented the latest version of a proposed noise ordinance to the supervisors during their Thursday, Dec. 10, meeting.

In November, Richard Watson asked the supervisors to update the county’s noise ordinance so that it is enforceable after he complained that from his Modest Creek Road home he can hear a neighbor’s music and the obscenities of the lyrics from a quarter mile away. There are other houses with small children that are closer to the house and the music, he said.

Watson fretted that when he called the sheriff’s office, an officer explained that he could request that the music be turned down, but the issue was not enforceable because the county’s ordinance does not specify a decibel level.

The problem will only get worse if something isn’t done as more people move into the county, he said. He suggested that the county use property lines as a measuring tool instead of decibels.

Rennie, however, noted that the Supreme Court requires that the measurement be in decibels — and it would be costly to purchase the equipment for each officer to make the measurements.

Rennie said the draft ordinance he passed out to the board “is at least a start.”

“I am open to how much or how little you want to have in the noise ordinance,” he said.

He said he will bring another version in January, and is including Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement in the conversation.

Meanwhile, the Victoria Town Council amended its noise ordinance in early November after months of consideration and discussion. The amended ordinance provides regulation on a number of topics, including the blowing of car horns, ringing of bells and the times demolitions can take place — but the focus was on loud music

The ordinance was amended to satisfy a judge’s request that it have some specifications to it, while also avoiding the need for the town to purchase decimal meters for its police officers to use.

The amendment clarifies noise as being heard a distance of 100 feet or more from its source, Acting Town Manager J.A. Dayton explained. Now the town will train its police officers as to how to properly articulate a violation to a judge.

“We need to elaborate on how far (away) we can hear it — make sure it’s causing a public nuisance instead of just disturbing one person,” Chief Keith Phillips explained at the time.

Only Kenbridge officials seem content with what they have on the books.

“Nothing has been mentioned on it since I have been here, so am guessing it is satisfactory,” said Robyn Fowler, Kenbridge town manager.