City considers decibel meters to measure noise

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – How loud is too loud when it comes to noisy neighbors? That's what Richmond City leaders are figuring out this week as they create a new noise ordinance for the city.

Between, barking dogs, church bells, rock bands and TV's...there's a lot of noise to keep track of in any city. And with two failed noise ordinances under its belt, one deemed unconstitutional by a judge, Richmond leaders are working hard to create legislation that will work. A group of city leaders and lawyers have been meeting at City Hall every month. They've compared noise ordinances from 26 different cities, and are now turning to a more measured way to decide when something is too loud... a decibel meter.

The city is considering allowing up to 65 decibels of noise during the day between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. That's about as loud as a vacuum cleaner. That number drops to 55 over night between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Emergency vehicles and school events like football games would be exempt.

"The version I've seen is dramatically better than the original ordinance," said Steven Benjamin.

He's the attorney that challenged and won against the city's last noise ordinance. He says this time around, the city is headed in the right direction.

"The city's on the right track now. They are drafting something that can be objectively applied. That does not permit the type of subjective application by the police in the field. It's a very good effort."

The noise ordinance work group will meet tonight and tentatively plans to meet again at City Hall on February 9th from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. They welcome your suggestions and they hope to get a draft before the City Council by the spring.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.