Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:


Raymond E. Graham, Chairman, Cedar Run District Supervisor


October 13, 2005

Staff Lead:


W. Todd Benson, Assistant Zoning Administrator



Community Development





A Work Session to Discuss the Proposed Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Table 1 of Article 9 and Sections 9-701 through 9-705 to Delete Current Noise Standards and Replace with New Noise Standards


Topic Description:


A work session is requested to discuss the proposed text amendment that would: (a) delete current noise standards based upon decibel levels; and (b) replace them with new noise standards principally based upon qualitative standards.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Conduct a work session.

Financial Impact Analysis:

Should the Board of Supervisors elect to maintain a noise ordinance based upon decibel levels, additional funding of approximately $ 10,000 is necessary for the requisite equipment and staff training.


Summary Staff Report:


During a November, 2004 work session on noise by the Planning Commission, changes to the noise ordinance were discussed. In short, the Planning Commission was concerned that the current noise regulations, based upon permitted decibel levels, were unworkable. Quite simply, the Fauquier County zoning staff has neither the equipment nor the expertise to measure decibel levels based upon octave ban frequencies as set forth in the existing Zoning Ordinance.


The Planning Commission directed staff to place a noise ordinance text amendment on the Planning Commissionís agenda at the first possible date. The draft ordinance that resulted  was almost verbatim the County Code Noise Ordinance found at Fauquier County Code, Chapter 13.5.  Principal differences between the County Code and the proposed zoning text amendment are underlined.


The proposed amendment deletes the current zoning ordinance noise language which is based upon decibels and, except in one instance, substitutes qualitative standards.  This text amendment was initiated by the Planning Commission  on January 27, 2005.  On February 17, 2005 the Planning Commission held a public hearing and kept open the public comment period.  On April 26, 2005 the Planning Commission held a work session and requested another public hearing for their May meeting.  Another public hearing was held on May 26, 2005.  Following the hearing, the Planning Commission deferred action until its meeting in June. On June 30, 2005, the attached ordinance was unanimously recommended to the Board of Supervisors.  Throughout the lengthy process, various changes were made in response to public comments.


The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the proposed amendment on August 11, 2005.  The Board of Supervisors left the public hearing open and continued the matter until the October meeting.


At the August meeting, several Board members expressed concern about going to a qualitative standard for measuring violations.  Subsequently, County staff contacted a sound expert for an informal quote on what it would cost to purchase a sound meter and calibration equipment and train County staff in the use of such equipment.  The informal quote was $ 7,500.  The expert also informed the County that the current sound ordinance is out of date and based upon antiquated sound measuring devices. Thus, if a decibel standard is continued, extra funds will be necessary for a consultant to assist in updating the ordinance.


Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:


Economic Development Office