Supervisors ask staff to create noise ordinance

The Valley Banner

HARRISONBURG — It may be difficult, but Rockingham County officials will take a swing at noise regulations.

The Board of Supervisors directed staff to craft a noise ordinance at its meeting last Wednesday.

The county has no ordinance regulating noise, leaving deputies with no choice but to try to mediate disputes when complaints are made.

Janet Brady, who requested the ordinance, told the board about issues she’s faced at her McGaheysville property.

Brady said one neighbor played music and karaoke on “stadium speakers” and another is target shooting on weekends.

“I’m not talking about the kind of noise we all have become accustomed to day to day,” she said. “I’m talking about the kind that is truly a nuisance.”

Brady wasn’t able to work out the issue with her neighbors and called the sheriff’s office, but that didn’t help because there’s no noise ordinance.

“The police basically told me I have no rights,” she said. “There was nothing they could do.”

She said the shooting is more than a noise problem, as it causes her livestock to stampede, which could lead to injuries.

A noise ordinance would allow the county to regulate excessive sounds, which are a common complaint with requests for special-use permits and rezonings.

County staff have two routes to follow for a noise ordinance — one that is stricter and based on decibel level readings and another that allow deputies to judge if noise levels are nuisances.

“It’s a difficult issue,” Supervisor Mike Breeden said. “It’s really complicated and difficult.”

The decibel readings can fall under scrutiny in court because, similar to radar detectors used for speeding tickets, police must prove the meters were properly calibrated and officers were trained to use the equipment.

Harrisonburg and Page and Augusta counties have ordinances that staff can study, Supervisor Rick Chandler said.

“There are ordinances out there; so, it’s not like we have to reinvent the wheel,” he said.

Other Business
In other business, the board approved Great Eastern Resort Corp.’s request to rezone a 0.93acre parcel at Massanutten Resort from general agriculture to general residential. Supervisors Pablo Cuevas, Fred Eberly, Bill Kyger, Chandler and Breeden voted in favor of the request. The property is along Resort Drive near Silverstone Lane. If approved, Great Eastern plans to use an existing building as a headquarters for Peak Construction Co.

Great Eastern is the parent company of Massanutten Resort and Peak Construction, which is headquartered at the resort. Also at Wednesday’s meeting, County Attorney Tom Miller said Redeemer Classical School withdrew its request for exemption from local taxes.

Last month, the board held off scheduling a public hearing on the request by the private Christian school in Keezletown. The board wanted information on the status of other private schools.
Redeemer was seeking the status after purchasing the former Keezletown Elementary School building earlier this year.

Miller said all other private schools in the county are exempt from real estate and personal property taxes.

However, Redeemer didn’t need the board to approve the status because it is allowed for schools under the Virginia Constitution. Therefore, the school withdrew its request.

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