Fredericksburg noise ordinance seeks to quiet UMW students
By HEATHER JACKLING
Recently many students, specifically commuter students who live in the Fredericksburg area, may have received an email regarding some changes to a noise ordinance in effect throughout the city of Fredericksburg.
Initially, the ordinance was not very specific and the email made claims that the ordinance’s idea of “unreasonable noise” was vague, leaving room for varying interpretations from person to person.
The edited ordinance, however, set clear definitions as to what is prohibited in the Fredericksburg community. This includes yelling and shouting after 11 p.m., stereos and televisions being played at an excessive volume, which is defined as being heard from at least 50 feet away, among others.
Although it is true that the city and its residents are entitled to a decent night’s sleep, free from the interference of loud and excessive noise, there is also room to say that this ordinance is slightly unfair as it combats some of the freedoms enjoyed of its inhabitants.
As Fredericksburg is a college town, and more specifically the home of a liberal arts college, many students here who live off campus may be worried that they will not be able to work within the boundaries of this new ordinance. Especially those students that play instruments, are in a band, or need to utilize materials that could be considered a source of “an unreasonable amount of noise.”
Accordingly, even students who like to listen to music, or want to throw a small party over the weekend can be directly affected.
The new ordinance states that if someone who is conducting “noisy” activity is not within a specific sanctioned part of the downtown region, during specific hours which only take place over the weekend, they are in violation of the code, and thus, breaking the law. This idea seems highly unfair, given that the Fredericksburg area is relatively small, and the idea of what is considered “unlawful” is rather large.
There is also speculation that this change in policy came about because of a bar, Happy Endings, located in the downtown area on Princess Anne Street. Many residents were complaining that the bar provided an amount of noise on the weekends, specifically shouting and loud speaking, which they found unreasonable.
Although, it should go without saying that if you work at a location that requires you to be up early in the morning, you may need a good night’s sleep. Similarly, if you have small children that may be disturbed by an unruly amount of noise, you probably should not live near a Kristin Davis of The Freelance-Star stated in a recent article that there is a bill in the works that would have bars and restaurants close no later than 11pm on weekends, helping to keep the area quiet during what is normally considered prime sleeping hours.
In accordance with yelling and speaking in a loud manner, revving engines, dogs barking, and noise created from an electronic or instrumental source is considered a violation, and such, will have repercussions most likely resulting in a fine.
Lindsay Ruais, a Fredericksburg resident and UMW student says that she is afraid this new ordinance could be abused. She lives in an apartment complex, which is relatively close to both campus and downtown, and says that although the complex can be rather quiet some nights, it also has a tendency to get boisterous over the weekends.
“I’d hate to think that people could get in trouble for speaking too loud.” Lindsay said. “I mean, I think that a power like this can be abused. I wouldn’t want people to get in trouble over a small amount of noise, or a television that’s just too loud, when simply talking to your neighbor could suffice.”
Overall, this new ordinance can be considered unfair. Like many other colleges, students use this time away from home to not only study and learn skills for the workforce later in life, but also as a time to help build their social skills.
Many of the students at UMW are also 21, and are legally allowed to purchase alcoholic drinks in bars, which may result in a noisier atmosphere, there shouldn’t be a legal repercussions to a bar operating normally in a city, nor should it have to close early, as this could cause more problems than benefits.
Finally, the new ordinance is not fair to students who use instruments, or play in a band and need to utilize a louder volume, as it may cause people to worry that if they practice at a certain hour in the evening, they could be fined, and thus the ordinance is stifling their artistic and academic natures.