Noise Ordinance Approval Delayed — The Arlington County Board decided to delay approval of an update to the county’s noise ordinance after hearing concern from swim clubs that the ordinance could make cheering at swim meets illegal and punishable by fines or jail time. County staff will now try to craft an exemption for the summer swim leagues. In addition to strengthening prohibitions on loud TVs and music, the noise ordinance update calls for a “quiet period” in single-family home neighborhoods that would impact morning swim meets. [InsideNoVa]
Chatman Addresses Fraud Conviction — Fresh off the announcement that Oprah Winfrey would headline her upcoming fundraiser in Arlington, congressional candidate Lavern Chatman is trying to downplay word that she was found liable for $1.4 million in damages in a decade-old fraud case involving a D.C. nursing home operator. Chatman called the case a “nightmare” and said she “didn’t pay much attention to the details” when she agreed to provide a loan to a “trusted friend” — a friend who ended up withholding the wages of nearly 300 employees of the nursing home company. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Honors ‘Women of Vision’ – Arlington County’s Commission on the Status of Women has announced the winners of the 2014 Arlington County Women of Vision awards. They are political strategist and Young Democrats of America president Atima Omara, Dominion regional manager Deborah Tompkins Johnson and Bowen McCauley Dance founder Lucy Bowen McCauley. [Arlington County]
Chamber Honors Hospitality Workers — On Tuesday the Arlington Chamber of Commerce honored more than 80 “frontline” hospitality workers at its 10th annual Hospitality Awards. One winner was Gadisa Bulla, who rescued a co-worker’s son from a fire across from the Sheraton hotel on Columbia Pike. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Rosslyn Company Scores Angel Investment – Encore Alert, a Rosslyn-based social analytics startup, has raised a $390,000 seed round from the local investment group NextGen Angels. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Keithhall
Board to Consider $6.6 Million Homeless Shelter Contract — County staff is recommending that the Arlington County Board approve a $6.6 million contract for construction of the new year-round homeless shelter in Courthouse. The contract includes a $1.1 million construction contingency to cover overages. The contract is “within budget,” a county spokeswoman said. The new Homeless Services Center will include 50 year-round beds, 5 medical respite beds and an additional 25 beds for winter months. [Arlington County]
Hike in ART, STAR Fees Proposed — Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan has proposed a hike in fees for the county’s ART and STAR transportation systems. The base fare for ART buses would increase from $1.50 to $1.75 under Donnellan’s proposal. [Sun Gazette]
Ebbin Reflects on Va. Marriage Ruling — State Sen. Adam Ebbin, the first and only openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, had mixed emotions after last week’s ruling that the Commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. “I always thought if you were gay, you could never get married, you’d never be able to have children,” he told the Washington Post. “I didn’t know you could be gay and be happy.” [Washington Post]
Belly Dancing in Shirlington — Aladdin’s Eatery (4044 Campbell Avenue) in Shirlington will be hosting regular belly dancing shows, starting on Thursday. The shows will be performed by faculty from Saffron Dance, which is based in Virginia Square. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Noise Complaint Targets Church – Even God is not safe from noise complaints in Arlington. Police were called to the 2400 block of Shirlington Road in Nauck on Monday night for “a loud church service in the area.” No word on whether officers found an actual violation of the county’s noise ordinance.
Flickr pool photo by Robpc
The Arlington County Board will review the draft noise ordinance at its March meeting.
Among the updates to the ordinance are prohibiting anyone from playing music or TVs loud enough to be heard by a neighbor as close as 20 feet away in an apartment building or 50 feet away across a property line. From the draft:
“It shall be unlawful for any person to use, operate, or play, or to permit the use, operation or playing of, any radio, television, phonograph, record, compact disc or tape player, drum, musical instrument, loudspeaker, sound amplifier or similar device or machine which produces, reproduces or amplifies sound in such a manner as to
create a noise disturbancebe heard within any nearbydwelling unit, house or apartment of another person at least 20 feet from the source of the sound, or at least 50 feet from the source of the sound and either across any real property boundary or at the curb or on the edge of the pavement at any built street.”
The minimum penalty for a noise disturbance violation is proposed to increase from $25 to $100, with a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to 30 days in jail. According to the ordinance, each calendar day a violation is reported or ongoing is a separate offense. All ordinance violations require a warning before a citation can be issued, according to Arlington County Code Enforcement Section Chief Gary Greene.
“Our thinking here is that if you have your TV or stereo or amplifying device so loud that it can be heard a whole room away, clearly and audibly, that would be a disturbance enough for another person that it would be a violation,” Greene said in an email.
The new ordinance was updated partially to allow some violations to be enforced without needing sound-measuring devices — presumably the reason the words “create a noise disturbance” were edited from the above provision. The draft ordinance also forbids motorized lawnmowers and leaf blowers be used after dark and prohibits “yelling, wailing, shouting, or screaming above the level of conversation” in a residential district.
Planning staff said the updated ordinance was written after a yearlong community outreach process. One of the key points to come from the process was regulations on animal noise. In the new draft, a noise ordinance violation occurs when a neighbor hears an animal at least once a minute for 10 consecutive minutes.
All county facilities, employees and contractors with the county, including trash, recycling and leaf collectors, are exempted completely from the proposed ordinance.
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Neighbors of Ballston’s A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive) have convinced the Arlington County Board to force the night spot to close its outdoor bar early.
On Saturday, the Board approved new restrictions to the bar’s outdoor patio. Despite A-Town’s owner’s objections, the outdoor bar will no longer be able to serve alcohol directly to patrons after 10:00 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. All alcohol served on the patio will have to be delivered by a waiter to patrons at a table.
The change to the bar’s site plan was made after residents of nearby condominiums, in particular The Berkeley at Ballston (1000 N. Randolph Street), lobbied the Board with complaints that the bar was making too much noise and negatively impacting property values.
“Commercial businesses must understand that they are doing business where people live,” Berkeley Unit Owner’s Association President Roger Lindberg said in a letter to the Board. “Late night disturbances make it an unpleasant community experience and thus directly impact the value of all our homes. Late night outdoor partying even on weekends, is not a reasonable expectation of any homeowner.”
“In addition to the noise… A-Town has attracted a more rowdy group of patrons who hang out in our public garden area after closing, creating noise, tossing trash onto our property and frankly causing a security concern for the whole building,” Lindberg added.
In addition, the bar will install a theater-style curtain around the patio to further block out noise. Attorney Jon Kinney, speaking on behalf of A-Town’s owners at the meeting, said the closure of the outdoor bar should at least be held off until it can be determined if the curtain is effective enough.
“We think the curtains are going to work and be able to contain the noise,” Kinney said. “We worry if we close the bar and the serving area and and we put the curtains up, that we won’t be able to open back up and know what worked.”
Members of the Board said they believed the curtain would help and questioned whether to hold off on forcing A-Town to close its outdoor bar, but the motion passed unanimously.
“It’s been really hard for the neighbors,” Board member Libby Garvey said. “I’m not saying it’s anybody’s fault, but I think we just need to bring [the noise] down as much as possible.”
Lindberg called the site plan amendment, which also renews the site plan conditions that allow live music and dancing at A-Town, a “reasonable… middle ground for all interested parties.”
Staff will conduct a review of the changes in three months, and the site plan amendment will go before the board in June for renewal.
Bracket Room (1210 N. Garfield Street) in Clarendon had wanted to offer its patrons live music, but an outcry from neighbors prompted a change of plans.
Bracket Room’s owners had applied for a live entertainment permit, but decided within the past couple of weeks to withdraw the application. They made the decision based on noise complaints from neighbors living in Lyon Place apartments — located directly above the sports bar — who say the existing music is too loud.
“We’ve had a lot of issues with the tenants in the building from the beginning,” said Co-owner Jeff Greenberg. “The residents were calling the police when we first opened, which I hear really happens to everybody. But we don’t want to upset the people in the building or the landlord.”
One month after the sports bar’s early September opening, police said they had received around three dozen complaints related to Bracket Room. County Zoning and Code Enforcement staff had also received more than 15 complaints. Last month, County Planner Sophia Fisher said county employees were looking into the issues. Staff members familiar with each permit request typically make a recommendation to the County Board about whether to grant or deny the permit.
“Zoning and Code Enforcement staff are both currently monitoring the use due to concerns raised by citizens related to noise,” Fisher said in October. “Because live entertainment has the potential to increase the impacts of a venue on the surrounding community, citizen concerns related to noise are taken very seriously by staff.”
Today, Fisher confirmed that the Bracket Room owners have withdrawn their application for the live entertainment permit.
Bracket Room customers might notice some changes implemented during the past two weeks to appease neighbors. First, owners decided to lower the music level to 85 decibels.
“They’re trying to keep [the music] as low as they can so people inside are having fun but other people aren’t disturbed by the noise,” said Greenberg. “When the people in the building are mad at you, what are you going to do?”
The owners also examined the sports bar’s closing time and decided to shut the doors earlier.
“The 1:00-2:00 a.m. crowd is usually smaller than at other hours of the day, but it’s rowdier,” Greenberg said. “We’re cutting our hours back and we’re not staying open until 2:00 a.m.”
Since implementing the changes about two weeks ago, the owners have not been notified of as many noise complaints.
Other ideas the owners continue to throw around include adding additional security, working with an architect to find some other form of noise insulation, and possibly turning down the music’s bass if necessary.
“We’re going to contain the noise, but we’re going to try to keep our restaurant full every night,” said Greenberg. “We’re going to try the best we can. We want to get along, we want to be loved.”
In a letter to the editor of the Sun Gazette last week, Arlington resident Karen Lamb said that construction noise has gotten worse in Arlington in recent years.
“I moved here in 1994, and it was relatively tranquil,” she wrote. “Now, there is new construction going on all over, trees are being leveled, hilltops razed and the sound of construction equipment is everywhere, with the incessant beeping of bulldozers backing up… no longer can I have breakfast or lunch in the gazebo, and forget sleeping past 7 a.m.”
The noise is “unbearable ” and the county has refused to do anything about it, Lamb continued.
A man who was “irritated with loud noise from a party” fired a gunshot into the air when some party-goers approached him, according to an Arlington County Police crime report.
The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21, on the 3000 block of S. Randolph Street in Shirlington.
The man, who was intoxicated, was upset that a “drinking party” in his apartment building was making a ruckus, even after he asked the party-goers to quiet down, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Frustrated, the man began filming the party with his cell phone from the building’s courtyard.
Four people from the party then approached the man, according to Sternbeck. Feeling “threatened,” the man took out a pistol from his waistband and fired a single gunshot into the air, Sternbeck said; the party-goers scattered, and the man placed the gun on the ground waited for police to arrive. Nobody was injured.
Patrick John Kelley, 32, was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm and reckless handling of a firearm. He was held on a secured bond.
The shell casing from the shot was found, but the bullet was not recovered, Sternbeck said.
The second of two scheduled public meetings on proposed changes to Arlington noise control ordinance will be held tonight.
Code enforcement staff and police department officials will be on hand to answer questions and concerns about the planned changes, which will dramatically increase fines for noise ordinance violations while eliminating subjective standards for enforcement.
Tonight’s public forum will be held at the Shirlington Branch Library (4200 Campbell Avenue) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. At its October meeting, the Arlington County Board voted to defer a formal public hearing on the noise control ordinance changes until after public input was gathered at two meetings, the first of which was held yesterday.
The county has produced a video about the noise ordinance changes, as seen above.
Board Votes Against Taxi Driver Proposal — By a contentious vote of 3-2, the Arlington County Board last night voted against a proposal that would allow taxicab drivers to be issued taxi operating certificates on an individual basis. Currently, only taxi companies are granted certificates in Arlington. County Board Chair Mary Hynes, along with Jay Fisette and Libby Garvey, voted against the proposal, arguing that the current system is working well for riders. Chris Zimmerman and Walter Tejada took the side of a coalition of taxi drivers that has been pushing for a driver-based certificate system. [Sun Gazette]
Meetings for Noise Control Ordinance – Updated at 8:45 a.m. — The County Board last night voted unanimously to defer a scheduled hearing on a series of proposed changes to the county’s noise control ordinance. Instead, two public meetings will be held to discuss the changes, in advance of a Board vote on advertising and holding a public hearing on the revisions. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. at the 2012 Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Boulevard). The second will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library (4200 Campbell Street). [Arlington County]
Examiner Endorses Murray — The Washington Examiner has endorsed Republican Patrick Murray in the race for Virginia’s 8th District congressional seat. The paper lauded Murray’s military experience and said he “is clearly the better choice.” Earlier this month the Washington Post endorsed Murray’s opponent, long-time incumbent Rep. Jim Moran. [Washington Examiner]
Among the proposed changes, county staff is recommending an increase in the fine for a noise violation from $25 to a maximum of $2,500. Jail time would also be possible under the revised ordinance.
The county started the process of revising the ordinance in 2009, which the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a provision in Virginia Beach’s noise control ordinance — a “reasonable person” standard for judging noise violations — was “unconstitutionally void due to its vagueness.”
Arlington’s current ordinance contains the same “reasonable person” standard. At the moment, the only enforceable parts of the ordinance require police or inspectors to either use a volume meter to see if noise is above a set threshold, or to catch someone engaging in a “prohibited act,” like idling an engine for too long or sounding a car horn for reasons other than as an “emergency warning signal.”
The revised ordinance will help with enforcement of the ordinance by clarifying how sound level meters are to be used to determine violations.
Under the ordinance, construction and special event noise above 90 dB will be prohibited. According to the staff report, it also “strengthens requirements to have developers and owners determine and provide industry-standard sound mitigation solutions for noise sources at construction sites.”
The threshold for vehicle noise will be 70-90 dB, depending on the vehicle’s speed and weight, and the threshold for other sources of noise will be 55-70 dB, depending on which part of the county the noise is impacting (residential, commercial, etc.).
The new ordinance also clarifies some of the “prohibited acts.” For instance, it will prohibit residents from playing music or blasting their TV so loud that it can be heard in another apartment or house at least 20 feet away, or in an adjacent yard at least 50 feet away.
The county government and its contractors are exempt from the ordinance.
Public affairs personnel from the military base are advising Arlington residents who live in the area that they might hear cannon fire around noon tomorrow (July 4) as a result of the annual ceremony.
Please be advised that there will be a 50-gun salute to the nation at the stroke of 12 noon, Wednesday, July 4 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Whipple Field by Soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Presidential Salute Battery.
According to Army regulation, “in commemoration of the Declaration of Independence, a salute to the Union (50 guns) will be fired at 1200 hours on Independence Day at all Army installations provided with the necessary equipment for firing salutes.” In 1810, the “National Salute” was defined by the War Department as equal to the number of states in the Union. Today the Presidential Salute Battery fires 50 rounds at noon on Independence Day to celebrate the nation’s history. This 4th of July, the Presidential Salute Battery will fire the 75mm blank ceremonial shell with 1.5 pounds of powder. The salute takes about four minutes total, so arrive early to view this celebration of America.
The platoon is equipped with 10 M5, 75mm antitank cannons mounted on M6 howitzer carriages. Each gun weighs 5,775 pounds
Portions of several roads on the base — including Marshall Drive, Grant Avenue, and Washington Avenue — will be blocked off during the salute.
Residents who live along I-395 and Route 1 can expect to hear the roar of motorcycle engines tomorrow, May 25, as the bikers head to hotels in Crystal City — including the rally’s official hotel, the Hyatt Regency at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway — and to a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C.
On Sunday, Rolling Thunder will rumble over to the Pentagon parking lot at 6:45 a.m. for an event that will be followed by a convoy into D.C. at noon. In order to safely accommodate the rally, Arlington County Police will close Washington Boulevard from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., according to a press release. During that time, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.
“Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area this weekend,” the police department advised. In the past, Rolling Thunder has drawn criticism for the amount of noise it generates for those who live along major roadways.
A complete list of Rolling Thunder events is available on the rally’s website.
The hour-long military pageants feature soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (the Old Guard) and the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” While the pageant takes place, neighbors near Ft. Myer may hear singing, music and blank cannon fire.
All performances are free and open to the public. Tonight’s performance is held at Summerall Field on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Pre-ceremony pageantry begins at 6:45 p.m., and the ceremony begins at 7:00 p.m.
The full list of dates and exact locations on the base can be found online.
The drills are scheduled to take place between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15 and Friday, Feb. 17. They will be conducted on the northern portion of Summerall Field on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, according to base spokesman Stephen Satkowski.
The drills involve firing blanks from the Presidential Salute Battery’s anti-tank guns. Nearby residents may hear the boom of cannon fire during the drills, as they did on several occasions last year.
Next week’s drills are being described as rehearsals in preparation for the Presidential Salute Battery’s participation in the Presidents’ Day ceremonies at Mount Vernon on Feb. 20. Residents may call the Old Guard’s public affairs office at 703-696-4183 for more information.
Earlier this year crews started nighttime rehabilitation work on the main runway at Reagan National Airport. That work directed planes landing after 11:00 p.m. to another runway, which in turn steered them over a larger portion of Arlington. Some frustrated residents have told ARLnow.com that since the construction started they have been woken up several times by loud, low-flying jets.
The late night runway change also steered planes heading in from the south over portions of southeast and southwest D.C. That prompted D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to send letters to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority last week, asking for an end to the redirected late night flights.
“Residents have continued calling [Holmes'] office, saying that they have experienced deafening, terrorizing noise and lights from planes flying directly over their homes in the dead of night,” the delegate’s office said, in a press release.
In response to the letter, the airports authority announced that it was scaling back the start of construction from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., leaving the main runway open later. The change took effect last Friday. The main runway will continue to reopen at 6:00 a.m. following the overnight construction.
“This will significantly reduce the number of late-night flights using alternate flight patterns to reach the airport,” MWAA said.