City Council passed an amended noise ordinance Tuesday night that would prohibit anyone from using an amplifier in the downtown district if it can be heard from 100 feet away.
Councilwoman Bea Paolucci said she had received numerous complaints from residents and some downtown business owners who were getting annoyed by a few musicians who were using loud amps downtown while playing music. One person who emailed Paolucci is Virginia Wine Experience owner Edwin Wyant, who was harassed by a musician who was playing too loud. Wyant also had to contact police twice to complain.
"Mine came after politely asking him to move twice, handing him a written request and then having more or less an altercation," Wyant wrote to Paolucci. "Since he has moved corners I haven't complained at all but it still interrupts the sanctity of my business from the other corners. He is extremely loud to the point that it is pointless to play (my own) music in the store nor have any quiet on the third floor of the building. This is the reason I am for an ordinance however loosely based it may be."
This new ordinance does not ban street musicians, but it does prohibit anyone from using an amp at a volume that can be heard from 100-feet away, which is about a half city block.
Council members did not have any comments before passing the ordinance on a unanimous 6-0 vote with Mayor Tom Tomzak absent.
The changes do not impact events that have permits to operate downtown. The enforcement of the ordinance would be complaint driven.
Originally, the ordinance contained language that would have prohibited musical instruments from being played downtown if they could be heard from 50-feet away. But Paolucci asked City Attorney Kathleen Dooley to amend the proposed language to remove "musical instruments" from the proposal and to increase the length from 50- to 100-feet.
Here are other things that the noise ordinance does not allow:
The noise ordinance also currently contains several prohibitions that apply regardless of time or place. Prohibited outright are: "revving" a motor vehicle engine, screeching tires, discharging motor vehicle exhaust without a muffler, sounding a motor vehicle horn for more than 10 consecutive seconds (safety-related use excepted), and use of bells, chimes, whistles and similar devices for more than 10 consecutive seconds (reasonable use by houses of worship, ice cream trucks, and for charitable solicitation excepted). Noise related to refuse collection is prohibited between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., and noise related to construction and demolition that is plainly audible across a property line is prohibited between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. (9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. on weekends and holidays). Animals which continuously vocalize and are plainly audible across a residential real property boundary for a period of 15 minutes or longer between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., or ten minutes or longer between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. constitute a violation by the animal's owner or keeper.