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.

Reporting a Violation

If you suspect a violation, first determine the approximate location of the noise source and seek to have it addressed directly with the offender. If direct communication is not possible, you may report the issue online or by phone (see frequently asked questions below for more info).

Who you contact depends on the nature of the matter, the day of the week and the time.

If the matter concerns loud patrons (restaurant, bar, club, etc.) or non-exempted construction noise, call the police. For anything else, follow these rules:

During business hours (Mon. – Fri., 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
Arlington County Code Enforcement
703-228-3232 or Contact Us (Category: Investigation Request)

Outside of business hours (Mon. – Fri., 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., and any time Saturday or Sunday)
Arlington County Police
703-558-2222

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

Noise Control FAQs

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?

Type of Noise Disturbance? Time of Day? Who to Call?
Loud patrons (restaurant, bar, or club) Anytime Police
703-558-2222
Construction noise (non-exempted) Anytime Police
703-558-2222
Refuse collection truck 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Code Enforcement
703-228-3232
Refuse collection truck 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 a.m. Police
703-558-2222
Animal noise 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Code Enforcement
703-228-3232
Animal noise 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 a.m. Police
703-558-2222
Loud parties or groups 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Code Enforcement
703-228-3232
Loud parties or groups 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 a.m. Police
703-558-2222
Special events 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Code Enforcement
703-228-3232
Special events 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 a.m. Police
703-558-2222

Will the police department enforce the noise ordinance when Code Enforcement inspectors are not on duty?

Yes, the police department enforces the noise ordinance under any of the following conditions:

  • Loud patrons (restaurant, bar, club, etc.)
  • Non-exempted construction noise
  • Activity that occurs Mon. – Fri., 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 a.m, or at any time on Saturday or Sunday

If I am disturbed by noise, what should I do and who should I contact?
Who you contact depends on the nature of the matter as well as the day of the week and time.

Unless the matter concerns loud patrons (restaurant, bar, club, etc.) or non-exempted construction noise, use the following rule:


Are there alternatives to reporting violations to Code Enforcement or the Police?

In order 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. If circumstances cause you to feel you are being damaged in a measurable way (such as loss of sleep, inability to conduct business, etc.) and staff cannot cite the offender, there are additional remedies available for residents to address noise disturbances.

  • Community mediation is an effective, low-cost option to address the problem. Code Enforcement can advise residents how the process works and how to seek out mediation agencies.
  • Residents living in development communities (condominiums, cooperatives, apartments, homeowners associations, etc.) should contact their management agents and review their community agreements, which offer remedies for problems such as excess noise.
  • Civil court actions can often be handled without the expense of an attorney, when cases are properly documented.

Does the law say which kind of noise can be made at different times and in different places?

Yes, Arlington County Code Ch. 15 – Noise Control describes the details.

For example, nighttime construction activity typically exceeds the decibel limitations for a zoning district. Without a special exception, construction noise would be required to conform to the limit of the zoning designation during nighttime, unless it is approved for a Noise Exemption Request (see below).


What are the penalties an offender may face under the updated ordinance?

Violators are subject to civil and criminal penalties under the new revisions.


Where can I find more information?

If you have additional questions or comments about the noise ordinance, read Arlington County Code – Ch. 15 or Contact Us.

 

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.