Noise Ordinances Being Struck Down Post-Tanner: What’s A Locality To Do?


This blog predicted that the decision by the Virginia Supreme Court in Tanner v. City of Virginia Beach would likely have significant impacts on local governments and their citizens.

Forecast has become fact, as ordinances across the state have been struck down or charges dismissed.

In the City of Richmond, a noise ordinance adopted after the Tanner decision was struck down by the Richmond General District Court as being too vague and ambiguous. The City chose not to appeal, and is now in the midst of amending the ordinance rather than keep fighting.

The City’s proposed new ordinance has already received a lot of criticism, and so there appears no end in sight to the challenges to find an enforceable Richmond noise ordinance post-Tanner!

And just recently, in Souter v. County of Warren, a panel of the Virginia Court of Appeals issued a majority opinion that a noise ordinance adopted by the Warren County Board of Supervisors pre-Tanner was similarly vague and ambiguous. Based on Tanner, the Court’s opinion ruled the Warren County noise ordinance unconstitutional on essentially the same grounds of vagueness and due process. A third judge wrote in his concurring opinion that he personally believed that the ordinance “withstands constitutional muster” but felt he had to concur with the majority because of Tanner and the principles of stare decisis.

Now, Warren County has, like the City of Richmond, amended its ordinance.

Please see full article below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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