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Article III – Noise

[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of Appomattox County 1-18-2011 (Ch. 113, Art. II, of the 1993 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 13.3-1 Declaration of policy.

At certain levels, noise can be detrimental to the health, welfare, safety and quality of life of inhabitants of the County, and in the public interest noise should be restricted. It is therefore the policy of the County to reduce, and eliminate where possible, excessive noise and related adverse conditions in the community and to prohibit unnecessary, excessive, harmful and annoying noises from all sources subject to its police power.

§ 13.3-2 Definitions.

The following words, when used in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:


The production for commercial purposes of crops, livestock, and livestock products, but not land or portions thereof used for processing or retail merchandising of such crops, livestock, or livestock products.


Crops, livestock, and livestock products, which shall include but not be limited to the following:

A. Field crops, including corn, wheat, oats, rye, barley, hay, tobacco, peanuts, potatoes, and dry beans.

B. Fruits, including apples, peaches, grapes, cherries, and berries.

C. Vegetables, including tomatoes, snap beans, cabbage, carrots, beets, and onions.

D. Horticulture specialties, including nursery stock, ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees and flowers.

E. Livestock and livestock products, including cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, horses, poultry, fur-bearing animals, milk, eggs, and furs.


The intensity of a sound expressed in decibels.


Any mechanism which is intended to produce, or which actually produces, noise when operated or handled.


Work made necessary to restore property to a safe condition following a public calamity, or work required to protect persons or property from immediate exposure to a danger, including work performed by public service companies when emergency inspection, repair of facilities, or restoration service is required for the immediate health, safety, or welfare of the community.


Any sound which annoys or disturbs humans or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans. Specific examples of prohibited excessive noise are set forth in § 13.3-4 of this chapter.


Includes, but is not limited to, lumber, pulpwood, posts, firewood, and other wood products for sale or for farm use.


Includes commercial flowers, nursery stock, ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees, and Christmas trees.


A vehicle defined as a motor vehicle by § 46.2-100, Code of Virginia, as amended.


Any sound that may cause, or tend to cause, an adverse psychological or physiological effect on human beings.


The person owning, controlling, or possessing land, premises, or personalty.


Any individual, partnership, corporation, association, firm, trust, estate, private institution, society, club, group of people acting in concert, organization, agency, or any legal successor, representative agent, or agency thereof. This term shall not include the federal, state, county, town, city, or local government, or any agency or institution thereof.


Any sound that can be heard clearly by a person using his or her unaided hearing faculties.


Any mechanically or pyrotechnically powered vehicle, whether airborne or landborne, which is not designed to carry persons or property, including but not limited to model airplanes, boats, cars, and rockets.


Any real property owned or controlled by the County or any other governmental entity or institution.


Any street, avenue, boulevard, highway, alley, or public space that is owned or controlled by a public governmental agency.


The property line along the ground surface, and its vertical extension, which separates the real property owned by one person from that owned by another person.


Refers to single-unit, two-unit, and multiunit dwellings and residential areas of planned residential zoning district classifications, as set out in Chapter 19.6, Zoning, of the Appomattox County Code, as amended.


An oscillation in pressure, particle displacement, particle velocity, or other physical parameter, in a medium with internal forces that cause compression and rarefaction of that medium, and which propagates at a finite speed. The description of sound may include any characteristic of such sound, including duration, intensity and frequency.


Any machine or device for the amplification of the human voice, music or any other sound. This term shall not include warning devices on authorized emergency vehicles or horns or other warning devices on other vehicles used only for traffic safety purposes.


Refers to the scheme of land use classification contained in Chapter 19.6, Zoning, of the Appomattox County Code.

§ 13.3-3 Violations and penalties.

Any person violating any provision of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. Each day the violation continues shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punishable as such hereunder.

§ 13.3-4 Excessive noise; specific prohibitions.

Subject to the exceptions provided in § 13.3-7, any of the following acts, or the causing or permitting thereof, is declared to be excessive noise constituting a Class 3 misdemeanor and a public nuisance:

A. Radios, television sets, musical instruments and similar devices. Operating, playing or permitting the operation or playing of any radio, television, record, tape, or compact disc player, drum, musical instrument, or similar device in such a manner as to permit sound to be heard across a residential real property boundary or through partitions common to two dwellings units within a building, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

B. Loudspeakers, public address systems and sound trucks. Using, operating or permitting the operation of any loudspeaker, public address system, mobile sound vehicle or similar device amplifying sound therefrom for any purpose between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in such a manner as to permit sound to be heard across a residential real property boundary or through partitions common to two dwelling units within a building.

C. Horns, whistles, etc. Sounding or permitting the sounding of any horn, whistle or other auditory sounding device on or in any motor vehicle on any public right-of-way or public property, except as a warning of danger.

D. Explosives, firearms, fireworks and similar devices. Using or firing any explosives, fireworks or similar devices which create impulsive sound or discharging any firearm in such a manner as to permit sound to be heard across a residential real property boundary or through partitions common to two dwelling units within a building or on any public right-of-way or public property, in either case between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

E. Yelling, shouting, etc. Yelling, shouting, whistling or singing between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in such a manner as to permit sound to be heard across a residential real property boundary or through partitions common to two dwelling units within a building.

F. Vehicles.

(1) Operation of a motor vehicle or operation of a motorcycle within the County that creates mechanical or exhaust noise that is plainly audible at a distance of 200 feet or more from the vehicle.

(2) Operation of sound-amplifying equipment in a motor vehicle at a volume sufficient to be plainly audible at a distance of 200 feet from the vehicle.

G. Construction. The erection, including excavation, demolition, alteration, or repair of any building or improvement between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

H. Pneumatic hammer, chain saw, etc. The operation between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. of any chain saw, pile driver, steam shovel, pneumatic hammer, derrick, steam or electric hoist or other appliance.

I. Animals. The owning, keeping, or possessing of any animal or animals which howl, bark, meow, or squawk in such a manner as to permit sound to be heard across a residential property boundary or through partitions common to two dwelling units within a building, and which sound has a duration of at least 15 consecutive minutes with no pause for greater than five minutes during said fifteen-minute period. This subsection shall not apply to any bona fide agricultural activity.

J. Commercial vehicle and trash collection vehicle operation. The operation of a commercial vehicle or trash collection vehicle between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in such a manner as to be plainly audible at any residence 100 or more yards away.

K. Vehicle and equipment repair. Repairing, rebuilding, or modifying any motor vehicle or other mechanical device, except in a commercial or industrial zoning district, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in such a manner as to be plainly audible at any residence 100 or more yards away.

L. Freight transfer. Loading or unloading trucks in the outdoors within 100 yards of a residence between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

M. Sound-amplification devices. Using or operating a sound-amplification device in a fixed or movable position exterior to any building, or mounted upon any motor vehicle or boat, or mounted in the interior of a building or vessel with the intent of providing service to an exterior area, for the purpose of commercial advertising, giving instructions, information, directions, talks, addresses, or lectures or providing entertainment to any person or assemblage of persons on any private or public property between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

§ 13.3-5 Maximum permissible sound levels.

A. In addition to the violations established by the preceding sections of this chapter, no person shall, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., conduct, permit, or allow any activity or sound source to produce a sound discernible beyond 100 feet from said activity or sound source that exceeds 80 dB(A) when measured as provided in § 13.3-6.

B. Any sound that exceeds the dB(A) level set forth in this section under the conditions and measurement criteria set forth in this chapter is a violation of this chapter. Evidence that an activity or sound source produces a sound that exceeds the dB(A) level specified in this section shall be prima facie evidence of a sound nuisance that unreasonably disturbs, injures, or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace, or safety of others in violation of this chapter.

§ 13.3-6 Method of sound measurement.

Whenever portions of this chapter prohibit sound over a certain decibel limit, measurement shall be made with a Type 1 or Type 2 calibrated sound-level meter utilizing the A-weighting scale and the slow meter response as specified by the American Standards Association. Measurements recorded shall be taken so as to provide a proper representation of the sound being measured. The microphone of the meter shall be positioned so as not to create any unnatural enhancement or diminution of the measured sound. A windscreen for the microphone shall be used. Traffic, aircraft, and other transportation noise shall not be considered in taking measurements except where such background noise interferes with the noise being measured and cannot reasonably be distinguished from the primary noise.

§ 13.3-7 Exceptions.

Sections 13.3-3, 13.3-4 and 13.3-5 shall have no application to any sound generated by any of the following:

A. Sound which is necessary for emergency work or in an emergency situation in order to protect life, limb, or property.

B. Public speaking which is necessary for emergency work.

C. Radios, sirens, horns, and bells on police, fire, or other emergency response vehicles.

D. Parades, fireworks displays, school-related activities, and other such public special events or public activities.

E. Officially sponsored activities on or in municipal, county, state, United States, or school athletic facilities or on or in publicly owned property and facilities.

F. Fire alarms and burglar alarms, prior to the giving of notice and a reasonable opportunity for the owner or person in possession of the premises served by any such alarm to turn off the alarm.

G. Bona fide religious services, religious events, or religious activities or expressions, including but not limited to music, bells, chimes, and organs which are a part of such service, event, activity, or expression.

H. Locomotives and other railroad equipment and aircraft.

I. The striking of clocks.

J. Military activities of the Commonwealth of Virginia or of the United States of America.

K. Household tools, lawnmowers, and other lawn equipment with manufacturer’s recommended mufflers installed, between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

L. The production of agricultural, horticultural, and forestal products, including but not limited to sawmill operations.

M. Noise cause by, or arising out of, activities related to repair, maintenance, replacement, or alteration of public utility systems or parts thereof and appurtenances thereto, where such activity is reasonably necessary to further a public safety interest and/or minimize disruption in the provision of public services, e.g., water and sewer service.

N. Noise from discharge of a firearm while engaged in bona fide and lawful hunting of wild game.

O. The sound of howling or barking by dogs under the command and control of hunters engaged in bona fide and legal hunting, as well as necessary commands to the dogs by said hunters.

P. The sound of howling or barking by dogs while participating in field trial events.

§ 13.3-8 Enforcement.

A. Instead of the criminal enforcement of this chapter, the County may bring a suit seeking injunction, abatement, or other appropriate civil relief to remedy, correct, or abate excessive noise.

B. Citizens of the County believing that excessive noise exists, which noise constitutes a public nuisance, may utilize the procedure set forth in § 48-1 et seq., Code of Virginia, as amended, and any other legal civil or criminal remedies that may be available to them.

C. The person operating or controlling a noise source shall be guilty of any violation caused by that source. If the identity of said person cannot be reasonably ascertained, any owner, tenant, or resident who is physically present on the property where the violation is occurring is rebuttably presumed to be guilty of the violation.


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