Pavilion Not Subject to Noise Ordinance

In this week’s Hook, Courteney Stuart writes about the Charlottesville Pavilion, in which she mentions that the amphitheater isn’t subject to the noise ordinance:

Belmont residents complained at a September city council meeting about “windows rattling” during many– if not all– Pavilion shows, and called for the City to enforce the noise ordinance. That law limits noise in the downtown business district to less than 75 decibels between the hours of 10pm and 6am. In residential neighborhoods, nighttime noise must not exceed 55 decibels.

Because the Pavilion falls outside both the Downtown Business district and residential areas, the ordinance does not apply.

If the Pavilion isn’t able to reign in their noise pollution, I suspect we’re going to see demand for a noise ordinance with teeth. Though I can’t claim to know much about the entertainment business, I do know that most venues around the nation that Dave Matthews Band plays at have a rigidly-enforced 11pm curfew; in some places, if they go over, they have to pay a per-minute fine. That might start looking pretty good here.

13 thoughts on “Pavilion Not Subject to Noise Ordinance”

  1. Even given a specific dB level, actually determining the noise level is very difficult. This is because, and it’s intuitive, sound levels decrease with distance. So do you measure directly at the source, which will be a very high dB, or just where the complaint is being registered?

    Even just a typical conversation exists in the 50-70 dB range (at 3-5 feet) (

    Plus, if you are sufficiently far from a loud source, determing how much of the total noise level comes from just that source?

    Then again, I never expect reality to be factored in when making laws.

  2. Speaking of reality, I don’t think Charlottesville leaders will aggressively deal with Pavilion managers when it comes to noise. You can only figure officials made certain exceptions when the pavilion set-up shop.

  3. nobrainer, Charlottesville law is actually designed to handle this problem. The whole of chapter 16 is dedicated to this. Noise is to be measured at the property boundary of the complainant, and a background noise measurement is used to determine how much of the sound comes from the alleged source (between songs, at the same time the following day, at the end of the concert, etc.). The police department maintains rigid standards for the noise meters that are used.

  4. Thanks for the link. That was more descriptive than I had expected. It would be nice if there was more (any) detail about the implementation of filtering out any background noise. Also, I wonder why there is a specific exemption for transportation noises during the day, but not at night.

  5. The Cville seems to dismiss complaints about Pavilion noise at the end of its article this week by saying, “The city is trying to turn Charlottesville into an urban destination, where people live close together and within walking distance (and earshot) of offices stores and concert venues. When urban convenience conflicts with the suburban urge for isolation, things start getting loud.” (John Borgmeyer)

    Mr. Borgmeyer got it all wrong. This Belmont resident spent six years living on Lexington Avenue in NYC, and never experienced the audible annoyance of the likes of the Pavilion. And I didn’t move to my tenth of an acre lot in Belmont for “isolation.” (In fact, I know that most of my Belmont friends and neighbors moved to the neighborhood because of its urban feel, and are welcoming many of the new developments proposed for the neighborhood). I could live with taxis, police cars, and ambulances roaring through the streets of NYC, specifically because none of them stopped and laid on the horn for three to four hour and for three to four nights a week, as the Pavilion is scheduled to operate. Just because we live downtown, does not mean we should be forced to put up with the background din of a rock concert.

  6. Waldo said:

    I do know that most venues around the nation that Dave Matthews Band plays at have a rigidly-enforced 11pm curfew; in some places, if they go over, they have to pay a per-minute fine.

    I think that’s a reasonable solution. Lets also keep in mind that this is an “Outdoor” venue. Noise was always going to be an issue.

    However I can’t help but wonder how anyone thought the noise would remain the same with the transition of that area from the friendly neighborhood “block party” that Friday’s After Five used to be when compared to it’s becoming a major concert venue- at least on a secondary or tertiary concert circuit. Especially one that’s run by a professional organization with serious industry connections and muscle. The time to put the end to the sound issues was before the ampitheater was a done deal. Where were the complaining residents then?

    I work in a building very close to the Ampitheater, and am often at work well after the concert’s started, and the noise level in my building is never anything that I can’t tune out, and It’s never sounded like anything louder than a muffled kettledrum. And I have a window office.

    Ever since the city drove the businesses out to the county back in the early ’80’s (with the area’s first indoor mall- and spurring the growth along the 29 north corridor as businesses fled the city)- getting people back to downtown area has been a major issue for the Charlottesville. The fact that the downtown mall is now such a desirable and pricey area to live, and by extention the neighborhood of Belmont…

    Well it’s because of these sort’s of improvements.

    Belmont wouldn’t be the draw it is if it weren’t for all the re-development in the downtown area. I guess I could’ve just said, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” But that would’ve been over simplifying things.

    And for the record I’ve never been a supporter of the Ampitheater, and have likened it to when the NFL want’s to put an expansion team in a major city, but won’t do it if the city refuses to put up public money. Putting a public asset in private hands for private profit was the wrong move. But it’s done now and can’t be undone.

  7. The time to put the end to the sound issues was before the ampitheater was a done deal. Where were the complaining residents then?

    If memory serves, they were complaining then, too. :)

  8. Waldo said:

    If memory serves, they were complaining then, too. :)

    Well hmm… I guess it’s “T.S.” then isn’t it? When I work right next door to the ampitheater (and I’m NOT deaf) but it’s “really” not that disturbing…

    I guess then that I “am” saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too!” Invest in better windows.


    I guess it must be that I’m just insensitive.

  9. Isn’t part of the City’s current logic “Wait till the transportation center is built(right in front of the angled stage) and that will minimize this problem”

  10. exactly. belmont is behind the amphitheater. if anything, the transit center will just bounce the sound back towards belmont.

  11. The residential area on the west side of Avon St. is also Belmont, and it is certainly not behind the Pavilion….and it sure doesn’t sound like it.

  12. I need to agree with cvillity wholeheartedly on this.

    What we have here is small-town ignorance at every venue in our daily lives. The noise/din in a major city like New York is entirely different in character than having to put up with someone else’s musical bass. Cville’s yocal-locals are like nutcases in charge of the psych ward.

    …Plus… Waldo’s ridiculous allusion to ‘noise’ ordinances – not the 1st time he hides behind so-called ‘laws’ – are an empty promise for resolution of anything. Don’t you know, Waldo – YET – that laws are made and especially applied by and for those that have the *power* (=money, connections) to enact them?

  13. Sympatico, that is the single most ridiculous comment that you have ever made in the history of your posts on I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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