Have you ever had a neighbor play his music at 2am? Have you ever woken up to the screeching of garbage trucks, the contemporary cockcrow? Have you been kept awake by a nearby resident who decided that midnight is the perfect time to mow his lawn?
In this post, we are going to look at what North Carolina says about loud noises and what constitutes as unlawful noisemaking.
To insure that you are operating in a legal and respectful manner, check your individual county's noise ordinance. Like the previous posts, we will be using Charlotte-Mecklenburg as the example. Both the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have their own noise ordinance.
The county ordinance deals with "unincorporated areas." In other words, if no other legal document governs the noise regulation in an area, the default is the county's ordinance.
Charlotte's ordinance renders unlawful many activities between 9pm and 7am such as:
- Operation of a front-end loader for refuse collection
- Operation of construction machinery
- Operation of garage machinery
- Operation of lawmowers or out-door tools
- Any mechanical noise that exceeds 70 db (A)
The sound level in decibels on a A-weighted scale (examples of such are found to the right) is measured at the property line of the nearest complainant (and not where he/she heard the noise!).
Just remember, decibels is measured logarithmically: eg. a garbage truck that is 80 db (A) loud is twice as loud as a vacuum cleaner that registers at 70 db (A).
The laws regarding animals are much more broad. The city ordinance states the following:
"It shall be unlawful for any person to own, keep or have in his possession, or harbor, any dog, other animal or bird which, by frequent or habitually howling, yelping, barking or otherwise, causes loud noises and produces seriously annoying disturbance to any person or to the neighborhood."
This means that the complainant only needs to claim that the animal is disturbing or annoying for the complaint to be filed.
Charlotte bans three very simple uses of motor vehicles:
- Muffle-exhaust removed or altered or maintained in a state of disrepair so as to cause unreasonably disturbing noises
- Jackrabbit starts, spinning tires, or racing engines which create unreasonably disturbing noises
- Other operations causing unreasonably loud or disturbing noises
The violations vary based on the nature of the disturbance. The violator may be assessed a $100.00 civil penalty. He/She may also be charged with a misdemeanor and be subject to further penalties. You may seek civil action against someone creating or allowing unlawful noises. Should the violator be the city or a corporation, additional penalties may be invoked.
Remember that the easiest way to nip the problem in the bud is to have active communication with those living around you. A five-minute conversation with your neighbor can save you time and money.