Breaking down the proposed revisions to Asheville, NC’s noise ordinance

Photo by @curvetheory

Late last year, the City of Asheville gathered community feedback + input on potential revisions to the Asheville Noise Ordinance. On Tues., July 27, City Council will vote on revisions for the city’s noise rules, and today, we’re breaking down the proposed changes. 

If approved, the new ordinance will create 2 primary rules

  • Sounds that come from central business, commercial, and industrial districts will be subject to an objective decibel standard, which varies based on the district and time of day. For the central business district, that means 75 decibels (the average sound of a vacuum cleaner) for daytime (7 a.m.-11 p.m., 12 a.m. on Fri. and Sat.), 70 (the sound of being inside a car going 60 mph) for nighttime 11 p.m.-7 a.m. (12 a.m., Fri. and Sat.), and 65 (on par with a normal conversation) for late night (2 a.m.-7 a.m.). Both commercial + industrial areas will be gauged at 75 decibels for daytime and 65 for nighttime. 
  • Sounds that come from residential areas, public spaces, and right of ways will be addressed using a “noise disturbance standard.” The time of day, volume of noise, zoning of the area, frequency + duration will be used to gauge this more subjective standard.

So when it comes to noise, what are the biggest offenders? Based on 9 months of Asheville Police Department data + community feedback — 1 of the city’s most extensive public engagement efforts — the following cause the most noise complaints: 

  • Construction
  • Vehicle exhaust/revving
  • Commercial + industrial equipment
  • Music over-amplification (including venues, outdoor events + buskers)
  • Fireworks
  • Residential neighbors
  • Barking dogs and other animals

Also significant? These revisions shift most enforcement from the APD to the city’s Development Services Department, which is expected to prioritize education for residents and businesses to make enforcement less of an issue. When necessary, however, enforcement will issue written warnings and citations that could result in financial penalties.

Wanna weigh in? Submit a remote comment or voicemail (855-925-2801, meeting code 8378) by 9:00 a.m. on July 27. You can also attend the meeting and share your input live.