HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Music lovers take note: on Tuesday, Henrico County expanded its noise ordinance to cover daytime hours, banning loud music and other kinds of racket in residential areas.
Previously, the ordinance was only in effect overnight, but at a board work session, a police official told supervisors that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there’s been a “marked increase in complaints for excessive noise” — possibly due to an increase in residents working from home.
The ordinance applies to all noise that is “plainly audible in someone else’s dwelling.” The ordinance in question only applies to noise sources such as TVs and loudspeakers — yelling, construction noise and annoying dogs are all covered under other provisions.
It will also only apply to purely residential areas. As the board’s agenda item notes, “Noise from recreational facilities and urban mixed-use areas would be exempted under the proposed ordinance.”
That exception also applies to approved commercial activities taking place in otherwise residential areas.
One Henrico resident, Joanne Holmes, spoke out against the proposal at a public hearing Tuesday night.
“I think this ordinance is unrealistic,” Holmes said. “A $500 fine for the first offense? This is ridiculous!”
She added that she believed there were more important priorities for Henrico Police to address.
“I think their resources could be better utilized than going around and monitoring the noise level from residents.”
She did express support for the nighttime ban which is already in effect but said the daytime expansion went too far.
Others supported the steep fines, with one woman saying, “I agree with the $500 — $1000 wouldn’t be enough!”
Andrew Dunmore, a local musician, said the ordinance was exactly what he was trying to avoid when he moved into his home, “I live in a neighborhood without a Homeowners Association on purpose because I need to be able to make noise throughout the day.”
According to a police official, Henrico had 3,200 noise complaint calls last year, approximately 1,400 of which were during the day and would fall under the new ordinance. But he added that almost no one was ever issued a citation for excessive noise.
“Our goal was and always will be voluntary compliance,” he said. “Out of all these calls, we charged one person with a noise violation.”