New noise ordinance in Richmond causing online uproar

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond's new noise ordinance has caused an online uproar. City council passed the law last month to comply with a Virginia Supreme Court ruling.

A VCU grad student, who is also a musician, started a Facebook group Wednesday which lashes out at the noise ordinance. More than two hundred people joined in just a matter of hours. Councilman Charles Samuels, who spearheaded efforts to pass the new law, says he's working to address mounting concerns and confusion.

When Jay Lindsey isn't studying urban planning, he's strumming his base guitars.  Lindsey is a member of 'The Hotdamns'. But says practicing at home just got tricky.

"When am I supposed to be able to practice? Where am I supposed to be able to practice?" asked Lindsey.

Under the noise ordinance, you could get a $25 ticket and face up to six months in jail for being too loud day or night if someone 50 feet away can hear the noise.

"We spend millions on a performing arts center, but then the organic and grassroots movements in this town; artistic movements which I think are one of its hidden strengths, gets strangled out at every opportunity," said Lindsey.

Lindsey started a Facebook group, calling the new ordinance insane. One member questioned whether Richmond was becoming like the town in the movie "Footloose". Councilman Samuels says the new ordinance isn't much different from the old one. 

"When you read the ordinance it's the same basic fact patterns that would cause a violation to occur. For example it's not just a dog barking or birds cawing, but it's really the consistency of it and the repetitiveness of it," said Samuels.

His office has fielded calls from residents, some complaining, others confused about what would put them in violation.

"I don't think noise ordinances in daytime are necessary in the middle of a bustling city," said Lindsey.

Councilman Samuels says he's working with a group of legal professionals over these next few months and hopes to address residents' concerns by summer. 

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