While the ongoing debate continues surrounding the regulation of noise in Goochland County—what counts as “noise” and who gets to say how much is too much—county supervisors recently agreed that a path forward will require carefully considering all points of view.
During the regular monthly supervisors meeting on July 2, board members unanimously decided to move forward on the creation of a citizen committee to examine the issue and offer feedback that could be used to create a formal noise ordinance.
As County Attorney Tara McGee explained to the board, the county had taken a similar action in 2010, but the board had declined to approve the ordinance that was brought forth. In that instance, McGee explained, the plan was created largely by those who felt they had been negatively impacted by noise and was subsequently challenged by a significant number of residents who felt that it was too restrictive and could potentially be used to curtail individual property owners’ rights.
This time, McGee suggested, it would be beneficial to find residents on both sides of the issue. McGee pointed to the process used to create the county’s nuisance animal ordinance in 2014 as an example of residents working successfully together to draft a plan.
Board members agreed, and ultimately directed county staff to come back to them with a list of residents who might be willing to serve on the committee, as well as a suggested time frame for the work to be completed.
The noise issue has been a hot topic as of late in Goochland, with residents using the public comment period during supervisors meetings to share how noisy neighbors — including those who allow dogs to bark constantly, or ride ATVs near property boundaries — have made their lives miserable.
The county recently held a listening session to gather public feedback on the issue, and the response, according to County Administrator John Budesky, left little doubt how many residents feel.
While Goochland does not have a noise ordinance in place, many neighboring localities—including Hanover, Chesterfield and Powhatan—do have them. Louisa’s ordinance goes so far as to guard against “whistling or singing in such a manner as to permit sound to be heard across a residential real property boundary, or through partitions common to two dwelling units within a building.”
McGee did note during her remarks to the board that in some cases residents’ noise-related complaints — including those about incessant gunfire or barking dogs — may already be covered under other already-existing state and local ordinances.