Supervisors adopt new noise ordinance

By Heather Michon

Fluvanna County has a new noise ordinance following a public hearing at the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday (Oct. 19). 

The new ordinance replaces one approved in 2009. County Attorney Fred Payne explained during a discussion at the Sept. 21 meeting that the 2009 revision was based on a Virginia Supreme Court ruling that required localities to set new standards to judge noise complaints.

At the time, the county adopted standards based on decibel levels. Law enforcement was supposed to use sound meters to determine if noise complaints met the threshold in the ordinance. But the sound meters had proven fickle when deployed in the field, making enforcement next to impossible.  

Instead of decibels, the standards adopted Wednesday night prohibit “any source of sound or sound generation that is audible in any other person’s residence with the doors and windows to such other person’s residence closed.”

The ordinance focuses on common nuisance noises like loud music, enthusiastic parties, private fireworks, and nighttime target practice.

There are a number of noises excluded from the list – including barking dogs, church bells, and the lawful discharge of firearms.  

The new ordinance removes the criminal penalties set under the 2009 rules. “Nobody’s going to jail,” said Payne. “You’re going to get a fine.”

Those fines start at $25 per hour for “continuous noise” to a maximum of $250 for the first offense. Repeat offenders will be charged at $50 per hour to a maximum of $500.

No member of the public spoke during the comment period. Supervisors approved the motion by a vote of 4-0, with Chris Fairchild (Cunningham) absent from the meeting.

Tap grant

Supervisors also approved a supplemental appropriation of $317,831 for a VDOT Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant awarded earlier this year for the Palmyra Village Streetscape project.

The project’s total cost is expected to be around $1.5 million. Under the conditions of the grant, Fluvanna County must provide 20 percent of the total. The remaining $1.2 million will come from the federally-funded TAP program.

The proposal for the Palmyra Village Streetscape envisions a significant redesign of the streets around the historic courthouse, Civil War Park, and the Old Stone Jail, including the removal of the paved space currently separating the park from the old courthouse. Some streets will be converted to one-way traffic and new, angled parking spaces will be created near the park.

County Administrator Eric Dahl said VDOT will start the preliminary engineering surveys by the end of this year. The work will proceed in stages over the next three years and should be completed by 2026.

Pumper truck

A quick procedural vote on a motion for $5,321 to cover a fee before finalizing a contract for a new tanker truck for the Fork Union Volunteer Fire Department turned exciting as first responders received an emergency call during their presentation. 

As soon as the supervisors finished approving the motion, fire personnel ran from the podium to respond to the call for a home seeing heavy smoke at Lake Monticello. A few minutes later, Fork Union fire trucks could be heard heading down Rt. 15 to assist Lake Monticello Fire and Rescue.

Chair Mike Sheridan (Columbia), a volunteer with the Kents Store Fire Department, said that type of call-out sometimes happens when the weather first turns cold and heating systems come on for the first time in the season. 

Radio reports indicated that the family had safely evacuated the home, and the situation was quickly resolved.

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