Jefferson County Commission passes noise control law

July 01, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Following months of discussions about how strict it should be, the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday passed a noise control law that will make it illegal to make noise louder than 65 decibels.

The commission was considering controlling noise at that level, but a Martinsburg, W.Va., audiologist told the commissioners recently he did not believe the law went far enough to control noise.

Michael J. Zagarella said most laws that have been passed to control noise limit the decibel level to about 45 decibels.


Commission member Jane Tabb opposed lowering the law's decibel level that low and pointed out that rainfall and a refrigerator generate a decibel level of about 45 decibels.

The law, which goes into effect Aug. 1, seeks to control noise from sources such as radios, television sets, musical instruments, phonographs and compact disc players.

The law says:

  • It will be unlawful to operate such devices in a way where they would be heard at 65 decibels or louder "through the walls of apartment units within the range of the same building" between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

  • It will be unlawful to generate noise at 65 decibels or higher during that time period from another property line or from the street.

  • It will be against the law to have a party or other event that produces noise at 65 decibels or louder from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

  • It will be against the law to use all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, scooters, or other motorized vehicles that produce noise at or above 65 decibels any time.

A first-time offense of the law carries a possible fine of $50 to $300 and a second offense carries a possible fine of $150 to $500.

Exempted activities from the law include emergency vehicles, any public or private emergency or alarm device, sounds from a place of worship, airports, railroads and sporting events.

The commissioners agreed to consider a noise law after hearing complaints recently from people about noisy neighbors, particularly in regards to loud parties.

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