County eyes noise ordinance adjustments for dirtbikes, ATVs after citizen complaints

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Jan. 30, 2018 | 5:00 p.m.

DINWIDDIE – Following a series of complaints about noise being produced by dirtbikes and all-terrain vehicles in the county, supervisors are looking at making adjustments to its noise ordinance in the hopes of quelling some of the disruptive sounds.

During their first regular meeting of 2018, the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors heard from County Attorney Tyler Southall as he presented a draft of language that would be added to the county’s existing noise ordinance to deal with the uptick in complaints about noise coming from ATVs and dirtbikes.

According to documents provided by the county attorney’s office, the language of the proposed amendment to the county’s ordinance would prohibit the operation of an off-road motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle “in such a manner to create noise that is plainly audible at least once a minute for five consecutive minutes inside the confines of a dwelling unit, house, or apartment of another.”

An important part of the proposed language is that it would place a prohibition on noise from ATVs and off-road motorcycles “in all areas of the county zoned residential, except for rural-residential.”

According to Southall, “Given the nature of the rural-residential district, the [Dinwiddie County] Planning Department’s recommendation would be to include” an exception for the rural-residential district if the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors agreed to enact the ordinance.

The county’s current ordinance places restrictions on the use and operation of radios, televisions, and other devices that produce noise that is plainly audible inside the confines of another dwelling or at 100 feet or more from a device, not including devices permitted for use at public parks, sporting events, school-sponsored events on school grounds, or other functions.

The ordinance also places restrictions on noise produced by refuse and waste equipment, along with lawn care, and landscaping items, with other parts of the ordinance making it unlawful for people at any time and day of the week to allow animals or birds, except farm animals to make noise that is plainly audible for at least one minute for ten consecutive minutes inside a home, apartment or another type of dwelling or at 100 feet or more from the animal or bird, the use of loudspeakers by businesses that can be plainly heard on a public sidewalk or street, unless the speaker is used to occasionally page individuals, announce the beginning or end of work or school, or other specific circumstances prescribed in the state code, or use audio amplification equipment that heightens the sound of audio coming from within a motor vehicle in such a manner that it is plainly audible from outside the car at a distance of 100 feet or more from said vehicle, with this section not applying to sirens, loudspeakers and communications radios for public safety vehicles or car alarms.

Violations of the county’s noise ordinance are misdemeanor offenses and would carry fines of up to $500.

For the definition of an all-terrain vehicle and off-road motorcycles, the county used the definition given by the Commonwealth, which characterizes the vehicle “a motor vehicle having three or more wheels that is powered by a motor and is manufactured for off-highway use,” with the definition not including go-carts or riding lawn mowers, while off-road motorcycles are defined by the state as those motorcycles “designed exclusively for off-road use by an individual rider with not more than two wheels in contact with the ground.”

According to Southall, the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office, led by Sheriff D.T. Adams and the agency in charge of enforcing the ordinance supports the proposed language, telling supervisors that Adams and the department had no objections to the proposal and they, as a department are always looking for solutions when these types of situations occur.

“This is just another way for us to help people live in peace,” Sheriff Adams said in an interview, noting that his department has seen a number of complaints about ATVs and off-road motorcycles over the years and residents. “Most of the time people will comply but, every once in a while, you have someone who is not going to comply so that is how this amendment came about because citizens complained that there was no law we could enforce and there was nothing in the current noise ordinance.”

“I am a firm believer that everyone should be able to live in peace inside their homes,” Adams closed. “This is just another tool for us to use if we need it. It doesn’t mean every time we get a complaint about an ATV or off-road motorcycle, we are going to give someone a summons. It’s just there for us to use if we have to.”

Any changes to the county code would require a public hearing, but before the process moves forward, Chairman of the Board Dr. Mark Moore along with the rest of the board of supervisors agreed to allow the county’s planning commission to have their voices heard on the proposal, asking that board to include the item on their next workshop agenda to give them a chance to discuss the proposal as a commission.

Once the Dinwiddie Planning Commission has their chance to review the proposal and offer feedback, if any, the matter would then head to a public hearing where citizens can voice their thoughts on the newly proposed language. That public hearing is expected to be held during the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors’ March session.

Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing
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