Council quiets noise laws
Fredericksburg City Council had a first reading on revisions to the existing sound ordinance during their regular Monday meeting. A second reading, needed to make the changes become ordinances, will take place on May 15.
The main changes should be friendlier for permanent residents, according to Fredericksburg Police Chief Steve Wetz.
No amplified sound will be allowed in the residential areas between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The way the revisions are written, commercial zones bordering residential zones will have stricter guidelines.
“These levels apply when measured at a property line which separates the property from any residentially zoned property,” Wetz said. “What that means is the decibel levels taken in a residential district coming from a commercial district have to meet the residential district sound levels.”
The responsible party is specified in the revisions, so owner/managers at the venue would be responsible. The responsible party doesn’t solely deal with music venues, said John Weisinger, sound committee member.
“This is also about bed and breakfasts,” Weisinger said. “It gives the police the ability to ticket someone who’s there or the facility owner.”
The ordinance would include a conditional-use permit for new outdoor music venues, which allows the city to oversee outdoor music venues that may affect residential areas.
Revisions would also reduce the distance of measurement from 70 feet to 50 feet, change the allowable levels for commercial zones from 70 to 75 decibels during the evening hours and 60 to 65 during night hours, and set a new level of 55 decibels for residential night time hours.
The sound ordinance only applies for the area inside city limits and doesn’t include the extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Sunset clause, B&Bs
The city’s sound committee suggested approving the revisions with a one-year “sunset clause.”
“During the last few months we’ve met with the committee and the general consensus is this ordinance is something they’d like to move forward with, with a sunset provision for one year, which will allow us to enforce it,” Wetz said. “After a year, we’ll come back with suggestions.”
Daytime maximum levels will remain at 85 decibels throughout.
Hours are broken down as follows:
Daytime: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Commercial: 8-11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday.
• Residential: 8-10 p.m., every day.
• Commercial: 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., Sunday through Friday morning and midnight to 7 a.m., Friday night through Sunday morning.
• Residential: 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., every day.
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