[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Elkton 12-18-2000; amended in its entirety 7-21-2014. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Council of the Town of Elkton, Virginia, finds that excessive sound is a serious hazard to the health, safety and general welfare of its inhabitants and to the quality of life in the Town of Elkton; that a substantial body of science and technology exists by which excessive sound may be substantially abated; that the people have a right to and should be ensured an environment free from excessive sound that may jeopardize the public health, welfare, peace and safety or degrade the quality of life; and that it is the policy of the Town to prevent such excessive sound to the extent such action is not inconsistent with a citizen's First Amendment rights.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this subsection:
- A-WEIGHTED DECIBEL
- The sound level, in decibels, measured with a sound level meter using the A-weighting network or scale as specified in the ANSI S1.4-1983 (specification for sound level meters). The level so read shall be postscripted dB(A) or dBA.
- The local time of day between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
- A unit that describes the sound pressure level or intensity of sound. The sound pressure level in decibels is 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the pressure of the sound in microbars to a reference pressure of 0.0002 microbar; abbreviated dB.
- Any occurrence or set of circumstances involving actual or imminent physical injury, illness or property damage which requires immediate action.
- EMERGENCY WORK
- Any work performed for the purpose of preventing or alleviating the physical injury, illness or property damage threatened or caused by an emergency.
- FARM ANIMALS, LIVESTOCK and POULTRY
- Have their usual and ordinary meanings as they are described in Code of Virginia 1950, § 58.1-3505, Subsection A1 through 5, as amended, and in Code of Virginia 1950, § 3.2-6500, as amended, definitions of livestock and poultry, but do not include companion animals as therein defined, or hybrid canines, as defined in Code of Virginia 1950, § 3.2-6581, as amended.
- GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
- The value specified by the manufacturer as the recommended maximum loaded weight of a single motor vehicle. In cases where trailers and tractors are separable, the gross combination weight rating (GCWR), which is the value specified by the manufacturer as the recommended maximum loaded weight of the combination vehicle, shall be used.
- MOTOR CARRIER VEHICLE ENGAGED IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE
- Any vehicle for which regulations apply pursuant to Section 18 of the Federal Noise Control Act of 1972 (P.L. 92-574), as amended, pertaining to motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce.
- Any motor vehicle designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and any four-wheeled vehicle weighing less than five hundred pounds and equipped with an engine of less than six horsepower, excepting farm tractors.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any self-propelled device or device designed for self-propulsion upon or by which any person or property is, or may be, drawn or transported upon a street or highway, except devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary wheels or tracks.
- The local time between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Any sound which annoys or disturbs humans or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans.
- NOISE DISTURBANCE
- Any sound which:
- The smallest parcel of real estate owned or leased by the same person or persons.
- PROPERTY LINE
- An imaginary line along the ground surface, and its vertical extension, which separates the real estate, including the dwelling units within a structure, owned or leased by one person, from that owned or leased by another person.
- An oscillation in pressure, particle displacement, particle velocity or other physical parameter in a medium with internal forces that causes compression and rarefaction of that medium. The description of sound may include any characteristic of such sound, including duration, intensity, and frequency.
- SOUND GENERATION
- Any conduct, activity or operation, whether human, mechanical, electronic or other, and whether continuous, intermittent or sporadic, and whether stationary or ambulatory in nature, which produces or results in a sound.
- SOUND LEVEL
- The weighted sound pressure level obtained by the use of a sound level meter and the A-frequency weighting network, as specified in American National Standards Institute specifications for sound level meters.
- SOUND LEVEL METER
- An instrument which includes a microphone, amplifier, RMS detector, integrator or time averager, output meter and weighting networks used to measure sound pressure levels.
Except as otherwise provided, any noise which emanates from any operation, activity or source and which exceeds the maximum permissible sound levels established in this section below is hereby prohibited. Such levels shall be measured at the property boundary of the sound source or at any point within any other property affected by the noise or at any point of the interior of a residence of another. When a noise source can be identified and its noise measured in more than one zoning district classification, the limits of the most restrictive classification shall apply.
Measurements in multifamily dwellings or mixed use structures. In a structure used as a multifamily dwelling or a mixed use structure, the police officers may take measurements to determine sound levels from indoor common areas or other dwelling units within the structure, when requested to do so by a residential occupant in possession and control thereof. Such measurement shall be taken at a point at least four feet from the wall, ceiling or floor nearest the noise source, with doors and windows to the receiving area closed.
No person shall operate or cause to be operated a public or private motor vehicle or motorcycle on a public right-of-way at any time in such a manner that the sound level emitted by the motor vehicle or motorcycle when measured at a distance of 50 feet or more exceeds the level set forth in the following table:
No person shall sound a horn or other signaling device on any motor vehicle except as an emergency or danger warning signal.
This section shall not apply to any motor carrier vehicle engaged in interstate commerce.
The decibel level of any noise regulated on a decibel basis by this chapter shall be measured by a sound level meter. The test results shall be prima facie evidence if administered in accordance with Code of Virginia 1950, § 19.2-270.7, as amended. In order to implement and enforce this chapter effectively, the Town police shall promulgate standards and procedures for using and testing sound level meters used in the enforcement of this chapter. Such meters shall be used for enforcement of this Code by officers of the Town of Elkton's Police Office who have been properly trained in their use. Calibration of such meters shall be in compliance with the recommended standards and procedures of the manufacturer and copies provided to the courts of jurisdiction.
It shall be unlawful for any person to allow any animal, except farm animals, livestock and poultry as defined herein, to create noise such that it is audible at least once a minute for 10 consecutive minutes at the property line, as defined herein.
Bona fide agricultural activities, practices, tilling, orcharding, raising of livestock or poultry and farming, including but not limited to bona fide agricultural exhibitions and fairs open to the general public, whether for an admission fee or otherwise, and the operation of equipment, machinery, tools, devices or apparatus in connection with such activities, practices, etc., are hereby expressly exempted from the provisions of this chapter.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to activities or uses permitted under the provisions of issued special use or conditional use permits in force and effect where the noises and sounds generated by such activities or uses are addressed and controlled by the provision of said conditional use permits. Before any special use or conditional use permit shall be issued concerning a use or activity creating or causing such a noise or noises as would cause such use or activity to be in violation of this chapter were it not for the provisions of said permit, the Town Council shall make a determination that the potential danger or disturbance to the community is outweighed by the benefit to the public interest by permitting such use or activity.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to activities or uses conducted in industrial or commercial zoned districts or in areas in connection with bona fide commercial, industrial or business activities, provided that the use or activity is in compliance with Chapter 110, Land Development, excluding, however, camping or other recreational activities, which shall not be exempt.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to formal or informal sport shooting. The operation or use of a sport shooting range by any person shall not be the subject of a violation of this chapter, provided that the sport shooting range is operated pursuant to the provisions of a special use or conditional use permit or is on private land and is used by or with the permission of the landowner or tenant. Formal or informal sport shooting does not include the discharge of automatic weapons, unless they are properly licensed for such use under existing state and federal laws [see Code of Virginia 1950, § 18.2-295, as amended, and as defined in 26 U.S.C. 5845(b) or (f)]; grenades, cannons (whether powder-fired, carbide or compressed gas) or other like types of firearms and weaponry, unless such use is in conjunction with a recognized ceremonial or similar act by an organization such as a VFW post, or by special use permit.
Additional exemptions. The following activities or sources of noise shall be exempt from the daytime prohibition set forth in § 118-3 of this chapter:
Band performances or practices, athletic contests or practices and other school-sponsored activities on the grounds of public or private schools.
Athletic contests and other officially sanctioned activities in school facilities.
Activities related to the construction, repair, maintenance, remodeling or demolition, grading or other improvement of real property.
Gardening, lawn care, tree maintenance or removal, and other landscaping activities.
Church bells, carillons, or calls to worship by other sound-producing devices.
Religious or political gatherings to the extent that those activities are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Public transportation, refuse collection and sanitation services.
The Town Manager or his designated agent shall administer and enforce this chapter with all the rights and authority provided for in this chapter. The Town Manager or his designated agent shall have the authority to make any necessary inspection, with the consent of the owner, occupant, operator or agent, to enforce any provisions of this chapter, whenever the Town Manager or his designated agent has reasonable cause to believe that there is a violation of this chapter. If any owner, occupant, operator or agent fails to allow or refuses free access and entry to the premises where a noise source is located, or any part thereof, with respect to which an inspection authorized by this chapter is sought to be made, the Town Manager or his designated agent may, upon a showing of probable cause to believe a violation of this chapter is being or has been committed, secure a search warrant or petition and obtain from a court of competent jurisdiction an order authorizing such inspection.
Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the abatement, by injunction or otherwise, of such noises as may constitute a nuisance; provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall abrogate or restrict the provisions of the Virginia Right to Farm Act, Code of Virginia 1950, § 3.2-302, as amended.
Whenever the Town Manager or his designated agent determines that any noise source meets the requirements set forth in this chapter, he may obtain a warrant or summons for the prosecution of such violation.
Any person convicted of a violation of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by confinement in jail for not more than six months and a fine of not more than $1,000, either or both. Each such occurrence shall constitute a separate offense.
A determination of invalidity or unconstitutionality by a court of competent jurisdiction of any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of this chapter shall not affect the validity of the remaining parts thereto.