Gwinnett County  BOC file photo

Gwinnett County commissioners take up business at a meeting in this file photo from February. A new noise ordinance that commissioners approved in May goes into effect Tuesday.

Gwinnett County residents will need to be a little more careful about how much noise they make when they set off fireworks.

The county has a new noise ordinance going into effect Tuesday that changes how officials will determine whether a noise can be considered a violation of the ordinance. The ordinance was adopted May 18.

“To balance the needs of both residents and businesses in our county, staff has completely rewritten the Noise Control Ordinance,” Deputy County Attorney Theresa Cox told commissioners on May 18. “Like the (previous) ordinance, the (new) ordinance uses the plainly audible standard for determining wether a sound is a violation.”

The new ordinance replaces the noise ordinance that county officials put in place in 2015, when consumer fireworks were first made legal in Georgia. After that ordinance was put in place, lawmakers went back and placed some restrictions on when fireworks could be used since the original law legalizing them lacked any restrictions on when they could be used.

Under Gwinnett’s new noise ordinance, officials will use location, time of day and the distance from which the noise can be plainly audible to determine whether residents are in violation. The only exemptions for fireworks are those days that are exempt under state law.

That means the ordinance does not apply to fireworks that are set off between 10 a.m and 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, on the last Saturday and Sunday in May (i.e. the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day), July 3 and July 4 and Labor Day. There is also an exemption from midnight until 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

As far as the “plainly audible” standard that officials said they will use, the new ordinance states, “Plainly audible shall mean any sound produced by a source, which can be heard by any person of ordinary sensibilities using his or her unaided hearing facilities. Measurement standards shall be the auditory senses. Words and phrases need not to discernible and low frequency sound reverberations are included.”

The distance a sound is allowed to travel before it becomes a violation depends on the time of day.

In nonresidential zoning districts, it is 500 feet from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and from 7 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 200 feet from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 11:59 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Meanwhile, in mixed-use zoning districts, it is 300 feet from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 7 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 150 feet from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 11:59 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

In multi-family residential zoning districts, it is 25 feet from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 feet from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. until 8 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Elsewhere, in single-family residential zoning districts, it is 300 feet from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 50 feet from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. until 8 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

On privately owned outdoor property, it is 300 feet from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 7 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 100 feet from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 11:59 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

If that privately-owned out property’s primary use is as a performance venue, however, the same distance rules for non-residential districts will apply.

Sounds made at publicly-owned stadiums, arenas, civic center or ballpark, Gwinnett County Public Schools properties or events, or places of worship, as well as government employees who are making sounds that are produced in their line of work are exempt under the ordinance. Sounds made by aircraft at Briscoe Field, radios or music players in cars on streets or highways, domestic animals and warning sirens are also exempt.

County officials will also establish a process where people who expect to hold events that will exceed the allowed sound limit to apply for a noise permit to hold the event. The permits will be issued by the county’s planning and development department.

County Commissioner Marlene Fosque pointed out the ordinance, and the new permit process, could apply to other events beyond those which involve fireworks, however.

“With a lot of graduation parties getting ready to start, or happen, if someone knew that they were going to have a large party — and they are social distancing — but if they are going to have a large party, they can get a permit for noise for a certain time frame or like in the evenings or something like that,” Fosque said during a discussion before the commission’s vote on the ordinance in mid-May.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

(4) comments

Cosmic_Soul

The Constitution of the United States of America States That Everyone Has the Right to Domestic Tranquility & Yet the Police Won't Respond or Do ANYTHING if the Noise is Not Within a Certain Distance or Accruing Between Certain Specific Hours, and So They CONTINUE to Allow This ENCROACHMENT on Its Citizens Rights to Peace & Quiet, as This is NOT at All What One Would Call or Even Consider Domestic Tranquility & Totally Against a Persons Constitutional Rights, But & Yet They Seem to Deem It Perfectly Ok to Let Ill-Repute Ruin Our Neighborhoods with Such Noise Pollution, as There Not Only Allowing Overly Loud Parties, Ect. Where They Should Be Fining & Arresting People for Numerous Kinds of Public Disturbances & Illegal Behavior, But Now There Allowing Folks to Turn Their Yards Into Parking Lots. Somehow They Figure Since It's a Code Violation to Park in the Grass, People Are Just Paving Their Whole Yards & Ruining the Whole Neighborhood, Property Values Are Going Down as Nice Lawns & Nice Neighborhoods Are Disappearing. All I Hear All Day & Night Long Regardless of the Hour is the Constantly Slamming of Car Doors, Blasting Car Stereos and the Continuous Constant Revving of Supped Up Modified Engines with Folks Speeding Down Our Streets, Drag Racing Ect. as Our Neighborhood Streets Are Just Filled the Skid Marks of Such People Peeling Out & Squealing Car Tires at All Hours. It's Not Even Safe for Children to Play Anymore. So Let Me Ask You Gwinnett County ....

Where Will the Children Play & How Can They Even Study or Anything for That Matter, as How Will Any of Us Ever Be Able to Sleep or Function Productively in a Society of Constant Noise, Ect. When Our Very Own Constitution is Proclaiming Our Rights to Domestic Tranquility. How & When Will This Ever Be as Lawrenceville Proper is Just Plagued with So Much Noisy Ill-Repute That Nobody's Willing to Do Anything at All About ???

Cosmic_Soul

Research solidly supports claims that noise is a health hazard, not just a nuisance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to certain everyday sounds at close range can cause hearing damage. Ongoing exposure to noise nuisances can also cause stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. Noise also affects the ability to concentrate and learn. Schoolchildren exposed to excessive noise have been found to have problems with reading and memory. I am ever so glad that there have been some updates to the current codes & some codes addressing the fireworks issues, that is good but we can do better with these laws & there enforcement. As these laws are all so out of date & were made before all this extra bass speakers & current stereo speakers, car stereos, ect and all the folks now a days wanting to play their music so the whole neighborhood has to hear it. We must all do better than this & just show a lil' common curtsey for our neighbors & fellow man as this really effects

our lives and now with Covid-19 and a lot of people being home more often, folks working from home by no other choice, children trying to do their digital learning these loud noises & excessive unnecessary noises are very disruptive & damaging to our lives & peace of mind. Please Lets all do better to show some respect & common courtesy to one another, just imagine if everyone on the block came out & all started playing their music like that all at the same time it would truly be just chaos, so please stop encroaching on others & keep in mind it doesn't need to be any louder than it does for you to hear it, the rest of the whole world doesn't need to hear it, nor do they want to & that's not fair, please don't make things difficult for others, keep it down & let there be peace all around - thank you :)

Cosmic_Soul

[ban] We Truly Need More Than This & More Help from the Police, as the Police Also Need to Be More Educated in These Matters, Patrolling Our Area's & Neighborhoods Better, as I Never Ever See a Police Car Just Randomly Patrolling Our Area, as This is a Huge Issue, One it Seems to Be a Difficult Issue to Prove, But This Would Truly Help Cut Down on the Nonsense, Keeping Our Neighborhoods Much More Safe as Were I Live, We Have People Playing the Drums All the Time, at All Hours, We Have Neighbors Who Constantly Have an Over Flow of People Over & Vehicles Parked All Over the Street, Their Driveway is Full & Full of Nonsense as Well, as Well as Having Vehicles Parked All Over Their Back Yard as Well, What to Speak of the Problem with Poses with Folks Coming & Going at All Hours Blasting Their Car Stereos, Talking Ever So Loud & Rowdy & Just Outright Disturbing Everyone & the Neighborhood All the Time. There Are Burnt Rubber Tire Tracks All Over & Up & Down My Street, Just Last Year a Neighbor of Mine Lost Their Dog Due to This Sort of Reckless Driving, What to Speak of the Danger it Poses to All of Our Children in the Neighborhood and the Constant Noise Issues. We Have People in Our Area with Huge Loud Commercial Vehicles Parked in Our Neighborhood Majorly Contributing to the Noise Factor at All Hours as Well as Blocking Up Our Street. Police & Code Enforcement Seriously Need to Get on This, as I Have Lived Here 15yrs. or So & I Remember a Day When They Went Around Checking Everyone's Grass Was to Long, Now It's Just Become a Free for All & Our Neighborhood Has Just Totally Gone Down Hill & Everybody Just Seems to Do Whatever the Heck They Wanna Do, and Now This Can Not Be & We as People Can Not Allow This. Folks Need to Show a Lil' More Respect & Common Courtesy for One Another, as We Just Can't Allow This Sort of Road Warrior Free for All Kind of Mentality & Thing to Go On, Its Just Not Safe & Its Just Not Right & So I Ask & I Implore of All You Good Citizens Out There, if You Do Happen to See or Hear Such Activities, Please Please Report It, as if We Don't All Ban Together & Help Out in These Issues, Surely We Will All Have to Suffer Them and or Much Worse, and We Truly Need the Help & Support of Our Local Police as Well, Please Help, Thank You Very Much.

Cosmic_Soul

Research solidly supports claims that noise is a health hazard, not just a nuisance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to certain everyday sounds at close range—such as lawnmowers and motorcycles can cause hearing damage. Ongoing exposure to noise nuisances can also cause stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. Noise also affects the ability to concentrate and learn. Schoolchildren exposed to excessive noise have been found to have problems with reading and memory. I am ever so glad that there have been some updates to the current codes & some codes addressing the fireworks issues, that is good but we can do better with these laws & there enforcement. As these laws are all so out of date & were made before all this extra bass speakers & current stereo speakers, car stereos, ect and all the folks now a days wanting to play their music so the whole neighborhood has to hear it. We must all do better than this & just show a lil' common curtsey for our neighbors & fellow man as this really effects our lives and now with covid-19 and a lot of people being home more often, folks working from home by no other choice, children trying to do their digital learning these loud noises & excessive unnecessary noises are very disruptive & damaging to our lives & peace of mind. Please Lets all do better to show some respect & common courtesy to one another, just imagine if everyone on the block came out & all started playing their music like that all at the same time it would truly be just chaos, so please stop encroaching on others & keep in mind it doesn't need to be any louder than it does for you to hear it, the rest of the whole world doesn't need to hear it, nor do they want to & that's not fair, please don't make things difficult for others, keep it down & let there be peace all around - thank you :)

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