Charlottesville Council Will Hold Off On Noise Ordinance Overhaul
Aug 21, 2012 12:29 AM EDT
Changes to Charlottesville's noise ordinance won't happen for several months, if ever.
Monday night, Charlottesville City Council considered making violations to the ordinance punishable with heavier fines and jail time. That was in response to complaints from neighbors in the Venable and University Circle neighborhoods about noisy fraternity parties. Now, the city will take a wait and see approach.
Right now, people found in violation face a class four misdemeanor, which is punishable with a fine of up to $250 and no jail time. But with proposed changes, multiple violations could result in higher fines and jail time, including a penalty of six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine for a second offense, and a year in jail and $2,500 fine for three or more offenses.
Councilors put the brakes on that plan, voting instead to have police better enforce the existing ordinance for a few months before making sweeping changes. A number of public hearings are also planned.
Karen Dougald says in 37 years of living on University Circle, the noise from nearby University of Virginia fraternity parties has never been louder.
"You hear the bass thumping and it's not just the amplified music," Dougald said. "It's people talking and laughing and calling to one another."
Dougald and other neighbors want stiffer penalties for repeat noise ordinance violators. They voiced their concerned at Monday night's City Council meeting.
"I've never been to a frat party where the idea, or the directive of the party was to generate as much noise as possible," UVA student and fraternity brother Jackson Wynne said.
Wynne says the change would be unfair, especially because police would now be able to keep track of violations for up to a year, instead of just for one evening.
"I know that if I was potentially purchasing a house, expecting a residential neighborhood, I would never move into frat row," Wynne said. "I think that would be a big mistake."
Still, Dougald says it's all about respecting neighbors. "This is a neighborhood with children," she said. "People do have to get up and work in the morning."
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Derick Waller joined the NBC 29 news team in August, 2010. Prior to this, Derick graduated with degrees in both broadcast journalism and political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story