Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Lancaster planning commission pauses action on noise ordinance

LANCASTER—The Lancaster planning commission on Thursday, January 18, held a public hearing on proposed changes to the county’s noise ordinance, but voted 4-0 to table a vote until other members could attend.

Irvington resident Rawleigh Simmons was the lone speaker during the hearing, raising concerns about the subjectiveness of the ordinance. “It’s very ambiguous what exactly constitutes a noise. Who gets to decide when it’s a noise that rises to the level of affecting the ‘health and safety’ of the neighborhood? Is it the police officer who shows up?” Simmons added, “There’s no real objective way to say what is a disturbance and what is not a disturbance. If a law is unclear it cannot be just.” 

Director of planning and land use Olivia Hall said, “We’ve done a lot of research and dug into the Virginia Beach decision,” referring to the city’s ordinance that prohibited “unreasonably loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise” that “disturbs or annoys the quiet, comfort or repose of reasonable persons.” It was struck down by the Virginia Supreme Court for being too vague.

Based on input and research, “We came to the conclusion that what we have proposed currently would satisfy what was laid out in the Virginia Beach decision,” said Hall.

Lancaster’s proposed definition of noise disturbance is “any sound which by its character, intensity and duration endangers or injures the health and safety of persons within the county.” New commission member….

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