Noise Control Ordinance

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The Noise Control Ordinance is the base standard for the control of environmental noise and is applied County-wide, with the exception of federal and state regulated properties, as well as thoroughfares.

First Steps to Addressing a Noise Issue

The County encourages residents to consider the following alternatives before reporting a noise ordinance violation:

  • Contact your neighbor directly and/or seek alternative means of dispute resolution
  • Residents living in communities (condominiums, cooperatives, apartments, homeowners associations, etc.) that may offer remedies for problems such as excess noise should contact their property management agents and review their community agreements.
  • Consider contacting your neighborhood or civic association, or other community group to act as agents in resolving the conflict.

Reporting a Violation

If you suspect a violation, but are not successful addressing the issue through direct contact with the offendor or working through your property management or community assoication, you may report the issue. Please note that to enforce the Noise Control Ordinance, inspectors and officers must witness the violation. Some issues correct themselves before staff can witness them and cite a violation. 

 Infographic on who to call for different noise ordinance violations

In addition to the above, other options are available which may address noise disturbances:

  • Community mediation may be an effective, low-cost option to address the problem. While the County does not endorse a specific mediator or organization, you can use publicly accessible searches such as mediate.com to find a mediator. Northern Virginia Mediation Services (NVMS) provides mediation for General District Court in Arlington.
  • Civil court actions may be handled without the expense of an attorney, when cases are properly documented.

Enforcement

Compliance with ordinance standards is required. If you’ve received a violation, our goal is to first work with you on a solution, but there is potential for civil or criminal penalties.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the current County laws regarding noise?

Arlington County Code Ch. 15 – Noise Control describes the base standard for the control of environmental noise.

The Zoning Ordinance contains language that allows for special uses such as live entertainment, dance halls and major development projects, often referred to as site plans. Special use conditions are approved by the County Board and regulated by a special zoning enforcement group.

What is a noise disturbance?

A noise disturbance is any sound that exceeds decibel limits or other restrictions described in the County's Noise Ordinance.

Who enforces the Noise Ordinance?

Please Note: To enforce the Noise Control Ordinance, inspectors and officers must witness the violation. Some issues correct themselves before staff can witness them and cite a violation. 

Type of Noise Disturbance? Time of Day? Who to Call?
Loud Parties/Music (Indoor music is allowed if it cannot be heard inside from 20 feet away or outside 50 feet away) Any time day or night Police
703-558-2222
Construction/Trash (Permitted during daytime hours; Noise exemptions provided by Code Enforcement)
8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., weekdays
County Code Enforcement
Response within 5 days; Call 703-228-3232
Construction/Trash (Permitted during daytime hours; Noise exemptions provided by Code Enforcement) Weekends, holidays, and 4:30 p.m.–8 a.m. weekdays Police
703-558-2222
Animals (Heard at least once per minute for 10 consecutive minutes)
7 a.m.–10:30 p.m., 7 days a week Police
703-558-2222
Animals (Heard at least once per minute for 10 consecutive minutes)  10:30 p.m.–7 a.m., 7 days a week  Animal Welfare League of Arlington Response within 5 days; Call 703-931-9241
Lawn Equipment (Lawn or garden maintenance using motorized equipment is not permitted during nighttime hours)
9 p.m.–7 a.m. weekdays; 9 p.m.–10 a.m. weekends & holidays Police
703-558-2222
Live Entertainment/ Restaurants (Each business has conditions on their live entertainment use permit)
Any time day or night

 

Police
703-558-2222
Nighttime Disturbance (Includes yelling, wailing, shouting or screaming that can be heard within a nearby dwelling)
9 p.m.–7 a.m. weekdays; 9 p.m.–10 a.m. weekends & holidays Police
703-558-2222

    

 

Noise Exemption Requests

You may apply for a Noise Exemption Request in either of the following circumstances:

  • The potential danger to the community is outweighed by the benefit to the public interest during the period of exemption.
  • Compliance with the provisions of this chapter from which exemption is sought would produce serious hardship without equal or greater benefits to the public.

A Noise Exemption Request must be submitted in writing and include the following information:

  • Dates and times that the work is to be done
  • Location or address of the work site
  • Map of the site, streets and adjacent properties
  • Full description of the potential danger and/or serious hardship to the public which would require an exemption to the Noise Control Ordinance
  • The type of equipment that will be used
  • Notification to adjacent civic associations or affected community residents
  • Name and phone number of contact person and/or on-site supervisor(s) responsible for the site

Upon approval, a copy of the exemption must be posted and accessible at all times.

To find out if a particular site is exempt, contact Code Enforcement by email or phone: 703-228-3232.