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Noise ordinance amendment on the table to address growth of music venues in Waynesboro

Crystal Graham
measuring sound in hallway of music event
(© Peerapixs – stock.adobe.com)

In recent years, Waynesboro has become the home to a lively music scene forcing City Council to take a look at how it enforces noise violations at commercial venues.

From Bottles to Plaza Antigua to The Fishing Pig and The Foundry, the challenge is that many of these entertainment venues are in close proximity to residential areas.

Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp shared a proposed ordinance amending Chapter 50 of the city code related to noise at Monday’s City Council meeting.

“The Council is aware that we’ve been examining our noise ordinance as it relates specifically to commercial music venues, restaurants and entertainment venues,” Hamp said in a council briefing.

The Foundry, an 800-person music venue, opened in March and received a warning from the police department related to noise after 10 p.m. After the warning, owner Bart Lanman began discussing the noise ordinance with Waynesboro staff and city council members to find a solution that would allow his business to thrive and not be a burden to nearby residences. He asked Waynesboro to define a decibel level that would warrant a violation instead of the vague language in the current regulations.

“As a business owner, I need a more scientific approach to manage ‘noise.’ For instance, quantified in decibels,” Lanman told AFP this summer. “The ordinance is just too vague. And ultimately will impact our ability to do the business we have set out to do. We continue to grow together. Our growth has introduced new opportunities for the city to consider and for the community to enjoy.”

In Staunton, the level of noise should not exceed 80 dBA at any point 50 feet from the property boundary for musical entertainment venues in its central business district. Additional conditions apply after 11:30 p.m.

The proposed amendments for Waynesboro would include:

  • The City of Waynesboro will move to a system of regulating noise from these entertainment venues through measurement of decibels with a maximum decibel level of 75. The decibel level will be measured at the real property boundary of the business or entertainment venue that is closest to the residentially occupied property.
  • The City of Waynesboro would establish a cutoff period for noise that begins at 11 p.m. and continues until 1 p.m. the following day, and that limit applies uniformly for all seven days of the week.
  • Recommend establishing a process that would allow for each business or entertainment venue to apply to the City Manager for six time and or decimal exemptions per calendar year for special events for special occasions or larger events
  • The ordinance establishes standards and procedures for using and testing sound level meters utilized in the enforcement of this article by the Waynesboro Police Department.

Hamp said the proposed changes are only for commercial venues and do not apply to residential areas where current regulations will remain in place.

The ordinance was introduced by Vice Mayor Jim Wood and seconded by council member Kenny Lee.

Final consideration for the amendment will be made at the Jan. 8 regular business meeting of Waynesboro City Council.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.