Kenbridge adopts noise ordinance

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Kenbridge Town Council ended months of discussion by adopting a noise ordinance at its Tuesday, July 19 meeting.

Parts of it came straight out of the county’s ordinance adopted earlier this year.

Town Attorney Cal Spencer warned the council before it voted that the ordinance was intended to strike a balance.

“There is a real balance between the rights of those creating noise and the rights of those who don’t want to be bothered by noise,” he said. “It’s a fine line.”

Indeed, prior to the vote, Mayor Emory Hodges cautioned his fellow council members that sometimes adopting an ordinance to address one difficulty can end up becoming its own problem by lingering on the books once that problem has been solved and the regulation is no longer enforced.

“I like things that are quick and simple,” he said. “If we go to the trouble to pass this we will have to enforce it.”

But Councilman Michael R. Bender said he believes the proposal does just what it is intended and supported its immediate adoption.

“I think it’s a good document,” he said. “I think it strikes a balance.”

Early on, town officials said they were going to focus on barking dogs, loud mufflers and loud music because “all that affects the entire community,” Hodges said. “It affects the quality of life; it affects if a house will be sold.”

Subsequently, council members worried that police officers might end up being overrun with addressing barking dog disputes, but Spencer said that while the officers will be able to testify to what they observed and heard, the neighbor who is complaining will have to get his own warrant.

Raymond Hite, who is a councilman and the police chief, said with any document there will always be confusion.

“Hopefully this will take care of everything, but, if it doesn’t, we’ll alter it,” he said.

The town expects to have the meters to measure noise levels in the next few weeks.

The noise meters cost between $1,000-$2,500, and there is a strict, 28-point guideline of specifications for the equipment to meet to get a conviction.

The ordinance calls for measuring sound by using a “calibrated sound-level meter” specified by the American Standards Association.

“Measurements recorded shall be taken so as to provide a proper representation of the sound being measured,” it stated.

Among the exceptions are school activities and parades.

Kenbridge started reviewing its noise ordinance after the county adopted its own and asked the towns to consider it. The county ordinance uses meters.

Victoria changed its noise ordinance late last year making sure not to require the use of meters, and has since said it is content with what it has.