In the News
– State News: Virginia Supreme Court strikes down ‘vague’ Va. Beach noise ordinance, posted Friday, 9:20 p.m.
– Local News: Long-term road closure in Augusta, posted Friday, 9:20 p.m.
– State News: Invasive Plant Removal Day, posted Friday, 9:20 p.m.
– Politics: Perriello to hold telephone town hall, posted Friday, 8:10 a.m.
– Events: Staunton Music Festival announces lineup, posted Friday, 8:10 a.m.
– Contest: Scenic Virginia seeks digital beauty for Viewshed Photo Competition, posted Friday, 8:10 a.m.
State News: Virginia Supreme Court strikes down ‘vague’ Va. Beach noise ordinance, posted Friday, 9:20 p.m.
The Virginia Supreme Court today struck down Virginia Beach’s noise ordinance because it is unconstitutionally vague. The ordinance prohibits “any unreasonably loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise in the city” that “disturb[s] or annoy[s] the quiet, comfort or repose of reasonable persons.”
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision to strike down this law,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “Virginia Beach is free to control noise, but it must do so in a way that is reasonable and precise so as not leave residents and business owners guessing whether or not they are violating the law.”
The case, Tanner v. Virginia Beach, was filed by Bradley Tanner and Eric Williams, owners of The Peppermint Beach Club in Virginia Beach, who were frequently cited under the ordinance. The owners presented a broad range of evidence to show that the ordinance is vague and unevenly enforced. Police witnesses admitted that they use their own subjective judgment to decide if someone is violating the ordinance.
“The ordinance was not even clear to law enforcement officials,” added Willis. “The vagueness of the law left it wide open for abuse by police who were free to interpret it differently depending on whom they were applying the law to.”
“Everyone benefits when laws are clear and unambiguous, and that is especially true when the First Amendment is implicated,” said Willis. “Hopefully, Virginia Beach’s next noise ordinance will both protect free speech and give residents, business owners and law enforcement officials specific directions when noise is an issue.”
Virginia Beach could correct its noise ordinance by stating a maximum decibel level at which sound can be heard at a specified distance from its source, as other localities have done. In this way, there is a quantifiable method by which to decide if someone is being too loud.
The ACLU of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Tanner and Williams in December 2008 arguing that the ordinance violated the First Amendment.
Local News: Long-term road closure in Augusta, posted Friday, 9:20 p.m.
Route 794 (Sangers Lane), between Route 792 (Basley Road) and Route 642 (Barren Ridge Road), will be closed due to bridge replacement activities from April 27 to Dec. 16.
Motorists can use the following detour:
– Westbound on Route 794, take Route 792 south to Route 250 (Jefferson Highway) east to Route 642 north to Route 794.
– Eastbound on Route 794, take reverse of westbound detour.
All work and scheduling is weather permitting. Message signs will be placed at various locations to alert motorists of this traffic pattern change.
The new structure will be a two-lane, single span, 27-foot 8-inch wide concrete box beam with asphalt overlay deck bridge with an unrestricted weight limit. This will replace a 3-ton weight limit, single-lane steel beam wood floor bridge over Christians Creek. The new structure will have full roadway approaches and shoulders transitioning into the existing stabilized road on the east side and transitioning into the existing asphalt roadway on the west side.
State News: Invasive Plant Removal Day, posted Friday, 9:20 p.m.
Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Native Plant Society, and Virginia Master Naturalists, a program with which Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources partners, announced the first statewide Invasive Plant Removal Day. The program will take place at locations all over the state on Saturday, May 2.
Details for the event can be found online. www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/invasives/index.html. Citizens are encouraged to participate and at this website can find exactly for which events in their own city they can sign up for; contact information for each city is also included.
“From kudzu to English ivy to tree of heaven, there are dozens of invasive species that are causing both ecological and economical harm,” explained Michelle Prysby, Virginia master naturalist coordinator, in describing the reason behind Invasive Plants Removal Day. “These invasive plants out-compete native species for the same resources, eventually harming trees, wildlife, and water quality. Removing invasive plants and sowing native flora is a fantastic way to restore water quality and wildlife habitat in any natural area,” she added.
Jenn Truong, invasive species control program coordinator of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Arlington County office, noted, “Invasive alien species are second only to habitat destruction as a primary cause of biodiversity loss globally. In Virginia alone, an estimated $1 billion annually is spent on invasive species management.”
Invasives have taken a firm foothold in many parts of the state and everyone’s help is needed to reclaim our natural areas. “Volunteers are key to helping spread the word, share the knowledge, and reduce the ecological and economic harm that these species are causing,” continued Truong.
Activities are planned throughout Virginia, including Arlington County, Charlottesville, Fairfax County, Falls Church, Reston, and Alexandria. Information for these and other locations can be found on the website.
Politics: Perriello to hold telephone town hall, posted Friday, 8:10 a.m.
WHAT: Congressman Perriello invites all Fifth District constituents to dial in to a telephone town hall meeting. Constituents will have an opportunity to ask questions of the congressman and to express concerns. The call is free and participants may dial in at any time.
WHEN: Thursday, April 23 from 7-8 p.m.
HOW: Dial in to 877.229.8493 and enter PIN 14581
Events: Staunton Music Festival announces lineup, posted Friday, 8:10 a.m.
The Staunton Music Festival presents a Baroque and Bluegrass Bash at Cobble Hill Farm in Staunton on Sunday, May 10, gates opening at 3 p.m., music starting at 3:45 p.m. with harpsichordist Carsten Schmidt performs works of Johann Sebastian Bach in the salon; the Madison Singers, under the direction of Patrick Walders, perform madrigals in the gazebo; and the acoustic band The Hound Dog Boys play bluegrass in the barn.
Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served. Limited seating is available. For advance ticket purchases, go to www.stauntonmusicfestival.com.
Contest: Scenic Virginia seeks digital beauty for Viewshed Photo Competition, posted Friday, 8:10 a.m.
Scenic Virginia is sponsoring its second annual Viewshed Photo Competition. “The best way to appreciate our Commonwealth’s natural beauty is to see it,” says president Jane Henley.
To accomplish this goal, Scenic Virginia is calling upon all photographers — professional and amateur — to submit their digital photographs of the Commonwealth’s breathtaking views and vistas in the following five categories:
A panel of judges will select a winner in each of the five categories and a grand prize winner. Each of the winners will receive recognition at Scenic Virginia’s 2009 Scenic Awards ceremony in October, special acknowledgment in Scenic Virginia’s “Yes, Virginia!” newsletter, and featured space on the Scenic Virginia website. In addition, the winning viewshed photographs will be featured on Scenic Virginia’s 2009 note card set.
Complete rules and regulations are online at Scenic Virginia’s website at www.scenicvirginia.org. There is no charge to enter, and each entrant can submit up to five photographs. The deadline for submitting entries is 5 pm EST on Sept. 7, 2009 (Labor Day).
Winners will be notified by Oct. 1, 2009. The winning images will be displayed at Scenic Virginia’s 2009 Scenic Awards Luncheon, scheduled for October at the historic Kent-Valentine House in Richmond, and at the Virginia General Assembly during the 2010 Legislative Session.