Noise Ordinance

527.01 Declaration of Policy

527.02 Definitions

527.03 Loud and unnecessary noises prohibited

527.04 Certain loud and disturbing noises enumerated

527.05 Measurement and control of noise

527.06 Applicability of Article

527.07 Exceptions and Special Waivers

Noise Waiver Application (.pdf)

(Turn in the City Manager’s Office, in-person, 15 days prior to event)

527.08 Enforcement and Penalties

527.09 Penalties; violations deemed nuisances

527.10 Conflicts

527.11 Severability




The City of Morgantown finding that excessive levels of sound are detrimental

to the physical, mental and social well being of the citizens of the City

of Morgantown as well as to their comfort, living conditions, general welfare

and safety, hereby declares it to be necessary to provide for the greater

and more effective regulation of excessive sounds through the adoption

of Article 527, Noise Control.


For the purpose of this article, the following words and phrases shall

have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:

(1) "Construction" means any site preparation, assembly, erection,

substantial repair, alteration, demolition, or similar action.

(2) "Continuous Sound" means and denotes a sound the intensity

of which remains essentially constant during a given period of time. Continuous

sound shall be measured by the slow response setting of a sound level meter.

(3) "DBA (Decibel-A-Weighted)" means sound pressure level

as measured on the "A" scale of a sound level meter manufactured

in accordance with the specifications of the American National Standards

Institute, Inc. (ANSI), Type 2, ANSI-S1.4(1971), calibrated within two

(2) hours of being used for measurement. Unless otherwise noted, measurements

shall be made in the slow response mode of the meter.

(4) "A-Weighted Sound Level" means the sound pressure level

in decibels as measured on a sound level meter using the A-weighted network.

The level so read is designated dB(A) or dBA.

(5) "Decibel (dB)" means a unit of sound pressure, equal to

twenty (20) times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the pressure

of the sound measured to the reference pressure, which is 20 micropascals

(20 micronewtons per square meter).

(6) "Daytime" denotes the local time of day between the hours

of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and between the hours of 9:00 a.m.

and 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and local legal holidays.

(7) "Emergency" means any occurrence or set of circumstances

involving actual or imminent physical trauma or property damage which demands

immediate action.

(8) "Emergency Signal Device" means any audible warning device,

such as a gong, whistle or siren or any air horn or any similar device.

(9) "Emergency Work" means any work performed for the purpose

of preventing or alleviating the physical trauma or property damage threatened

or caused by an emergency.

(10) "Impulsive Sound" means sound of short duration, usually

less than one second, with an abrupt onset and rapid decay. Examples of

sources of impulsive sound include explosions, drop forge impacts, and

the discharge of firearms.

(11) "Mobile Source" means any moving sound source on a public


(12) "Motor Vehicle" means as defined in the Traffic Regulation

Code of the State of West Virginia, or any vehicles which are propelled

or drawn by mechanical equipment, such as, but not limited to, passenger

cars, trucks, truck-trailers, semi-trailers, campers, motorcycles, minibikes,

go-carts, snowmobiles, mopeds, amphibious craft on land, dune buggies,

all-terrain vehicles or racing vehicles.

(13) "Motorcycle" means every motor vehicle having a saddle

for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three

(3) wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a trailer.

(14) "All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)" means any motor vehicle designed

for off highway use and designed for operator use only with no passengers,

having a seat or saddle designed to be straddled by the operator, and handlebars

for steering control.

(15) "Nighttime" means those hours excluded from the definition

of "daytime."

(16) "Noise" means any sound which annoys ar disturbs humans

or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological effect on humans.

(17) "Noise Disturbance" means any sound which (a) endangers

or injures the safety or health of humans or animals; or (b) annoys or

disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; or (c) endangers

or injures personal or real property; or (d) exceeds the applicable maximum

permissible sound levels as they appear in the table in section 527.05

of this Article.

(18) "Noise Sensitive Zone" means any area designated for

the purpose of ensuring exceptional quiet and shall include schools and

churches while the same are in use, any hospital and any nursing home;

provided, that conspicuous signs are displayed on the exterior realty of

any such school, church, hospital or nursing home which clearly notifies

a member of the general public of its use.

(19) "Person" means any individual, corporation, partnership

firm or any legal successor, representative or agent of the foregoing.

(20) "Public Right-of-Way" means any street, avenue, boulevard,

highway, alley, sidewalk or public space which has been dedicated for use

by the general public and the dedication of which has been accepted by

the appropriate governmental entity.

(21) "Real Property Boundary" means an imaginary line along

the ground surface, and its vertical extension, which separates the real

property owned by one person from that owned by another person, but it

does not include intra-building real property division.

(22) "Small Power Equipment" means any motorized or engine

powered device, including but not limited to lawn mowers, lawn and garden

tools, riding lawn tractors and power saws, excluding other motor vehicles.

(23) "Sound" means vibratory disturbance (including an oscillation)

in the pressure and/or density of a liquid or gas or in the particular

displacement of a solid or liquid. Such disturbance takes place at a rate

between approximately 20 and 20,000 hertz (cycles per second); and the

physiological perception of such a vibration of displacement.

(24) "Sound Amplifying Equipment" means any machine or device

for the amplification of the human voice, music or any other sound. Sound

amplifying equipment as used herein shall not be construed as including

standard automobile radio when used and heard only by occupants of the

vehicle in which installed or warning devices on authorized emergency vehicles

or horns or other warning devices on other vehicles used only for traffic

safety purposes.

(25) "Sound Level" means that which is measured with the "A"

weighting network on a sound level meter unless otherwise specified.

(26) "Sound Level Meter" means the instrument, meeting the

requirements of ANSI S1.4-1971 Type II rating, used for making sound level


(27) "Sound Pressure" means the instantaneous difference between

the actual pressure and the average or barometric pressure at a given point

in space, as produced by sound energy.

(28) "Sound Pressure Level" means the intensity in decibels

(dB) of a sound.

(29) "Stationary Source" means any sound source operating

or occurring on any public or private property, not including a public


(30) "Weekday" means any day Monday through Friday which is

not a legal holiday.

(31) "Zoning District" means and refers to the scheme of land

use classification contained in the Morgantown Zoning Ordinance Section



No person shall make, continue or cause to be made or continued, any

loud, unnecessary or unusual noise or any noise which either annoys, disturbs,

injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others,

within the City.



The following acts are declared to be loud, disturbing and unnecessary

noises in violation of Section 527.03, but such enumeration shall not be

deemed to be exclusive, namely:

(a) Animals and Birds. The keeping of any animal or bird by causing

frequent or long continued noise shall disturb the comfort or repose of

any persons in the vicinity.

(b) Defect in Vehicle or Load The use of any automobile, motorcycle

or other vehicle so out of repair, so loaded or in such manner as to create

loud and unnecessary grating, grinding, rattling or other noise.

(c) Domestic Power Tools Operating or permitting the operation of any

mechanically powered saw, sander, drill, grinder, lawn or garden tool,

snowblower, small power equipment, or similar device used outdoors in residential

areas between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the following day so

as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential real property boundary.

(d) Drums The use of any drum or other instrument or device for the

purpose of attracting attention by creation of noise to any performance,

show or sale.

(e) Engine-Repair and Testing It shall be unlawful for any person to

repair, rebuild or test any engine so as to create a noise disturbance.

(f) Exhaust The discharge into the open air of the exhaust of any stream

engine, stationary internal combustion engine, motor boat or motor vehicle

except through a muffler or other device which will effectively prevent

loud or explosive noises therefrom.

(g) Horns and Signaling Devices The sounding of any horn or signaling

device on any automobile, motorcycle or other vehicle on any street or

public place of the City, except as a danger warning; the creation by means

of any such signaling device of any unreasonable loud or harsh sound; the

sounding of any such device for an unnecessary and unreasonable period

of time; the use or any signaling device except one operated by hand or

electricity; the use of any horn, whistle or other device operated by engine

exhaust; and the use of any signaling device when traffic is for any reason

held up.

(h) Loudspeakers/Public Address System

(1) Using or operating for any noncommercial purpose any loudspeaker,

public address system, or similar device between the hours of 10:00 p.m.

and 8:00 a.m. the following day, such that the sound therefrom creates

a noise disturbance across a residential real property boundary or within

a noise sensitive zone.

(2) Using or operating for any commercial purpose any loudspeaker, public

address system, or similar device (a) such that the sound therefrom creates

a noise disturbance across a real property boundary or within a noise sensitive

zone; or (b) between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. the following

day on a public right-of-way or public space.

(i) Radios, Musical Instruments and Similar Devices Operating, playing

or permitting the operation or playing of any radio, television, phonograph,

drum, musical instrument, sound amplifier, or similar device which produces,

reproduces, or amplifies sound:

(1) Between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day

in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance across a real property

boundary or within a noise sensitive zone. (except for activities open

to the public and for which a permit has been issued by "appropriate

authority" according to criteria set forth in Article 315 of the Morgantown

City Code;

(2) In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance at 50 feet from

such device, when operated in or on a motor vehicle on a public right-of-way

or public space, or in a boat on public waters; or,

(3) In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance to any person

other than the operator of the device, when operated by any passenger on

a common carrier.

(j) Yelling and Shouting Yelling, shouting, whistling, hooting, or generally

creating a racket on public right-of-ways or public spaces between the

hours of 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. the following day so as to annoy or disturb

the quiet, comfort or repose of persons in any business or residence, or

of any person in the vicinity.


(a) Noise Prohibited No person shall make, continue or cause to be made

or continued any noise in excess of the noise levels set forth herein unless

such noise be reasonable necessary to the preservation of life, health,

safety or property.

(b) Measurement and Control It shall be unlawful for any person to cause

a sound from a stationary source which exceeds any sound level as set forth

in the applicable column in the following table titled "Maximum Permissible

Sound Levels" when measured at any point within any other property

affected by the sound. Measurement shall be made by a duly authorized individual

who is knowledgeable in the proper use of the measurement equipment. Measurement

shall be made in slow response, A-weighting, except in the case of impulsive

sound which shall be measured with an impulsive sound level meter, ANSI

S1.4-1971. Octave band measurements, where noted, shall be made with an

octave band analyzer.




Zoning District

Time of Day

Continuous Sound (dBA)

Impulsive Sound (dBA)
All Residential





All Business



All Industrial






The provision of this article shall not apply in using any of the sound

equipment mentioned and described herein where such equipment is being

used for civil defense or in the event of a disaster or other emergency,

or is being used by any governmental agency or at any public meeting.


(a) Exceptions. The following uses of an activity shall be exempt from

noise level regulations:

(1) Noise of safety signals and warning devices.

(2) Noises resulting from any authorized vehicle, when responding to

an emergency.

(3) Noises resulting from the provision of municipal services.

(4) Any noise resulting from activities of a temporary duration permitted

by law and/or for which a waiver has been granted by the city.

(5) The unamplified human voice (except as specified in Section 527.04(j)).

(6) Parades and public gatherings for which a special waiver has been


(7) Bells, chimes, carillons while being used for religious purposes

or in conjunction with religious services, or for national celebrations

or public holidays, and those bells, chimes, carillons that are presently

installed, and in use, for any purpose.

(b) Exemptions for time to comply. Upon good cause shown by the owner

or responsible party for any noise source, the City Manager shall have

the power to grant an exemption from the requirement of this ordinance

in order to allow sufficient time for installation of needed control equipment,

facilities, or modifications to achieve compliance, not to exceed ten (10)

days, provided that such exemption may be renewed as necessary, but only

if satisfactory progress toward compliance is shown. A request for exemption

shall be filed in writing with the City Manager.

(c) Use exemptions. The following uses and activities shall be exempt

from noise level regulations:

(1) Lawn maintenance equipment when it is functional within manufactures

specifications and with all mufflers and noise reducing equipment in use

and in properly operating condition between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and

9:00 p.m.

(2) Nonamplified crowd noises resulting from the activities such as

those planned by day care centers, schools, governmental or community groups.

(3) Amplified announcements, electronically amplified announcements

at athletic or special events from 8:00 a.m. to 12:01 a.m.

(d) Special Waivers.

(1) The City Manager shall have the authority, consistent with this

ordinance, to grant special waiver, provided, that no live bands shall

be allowed in single family residence zoning districts.

(2) Any person seeking a special waiver pursuant to this ordinance shall

file a written application with the City Manager.

A fee of $20.00 shall accompany the application. The written application shall contain information which demonstrates that

bringing the source of sound or activity for which the special waiver is

sought into compliance with the ordinance would constitute an unreasonable

hardship on the applicant, on the community, or for another purpose.

(3) In determining whether to grant or deny the application, the City

Manager shall balance the hardship to the applicant, the community, and

other persons of not granting the special waiver against the adverse impact

on the health, safety and welfare of persons affected, the adverse impact

of granting the special waiver.

(4) Special waivers shall be granted by notice to the applicant and

may include all necessary conditions, including time limits on the permitted

activity. The special waiver shall not become effective until all conditions

are agreed to by the applicants. Noncompliance with any condition of the

special waiver shall terminate it and subject the person holding it to

those provisions of this ordinance regulating the source of sounds or activity

for which the special waiver was granted.

(5) The City Manager may issue guidelines defining the procedures to

be followed in applying for special waivers and the criteria in declaring

whether to grant a special waiver.

(e) Social Gatherings and Parties.

(1) Any person who is planning a social gathering or party at which

it is anticipated that the noise levels will exceed those set forth in

527.05 herein may file a written application with the City Manager for

a special waiver from said noise levels.

(2) Any person seeking such a special waiver shall indicate in his or

her application to the City Manager the specific reason why he or she will

not be able to meet the established noise levels. The applicant shall also

include a written statement that he or she has personally contacted all

residents of properties within 400 feet of the property in question and

none oppose the special waiver being requested. A fee of $20.00 shall accompany the application. For purposes of the preceding

sentence, an applicant will also be required to notify and receive permission

from applicant’s landlord, if the property in question is a rental property.

(3) Should the applicant be granted a special waiver pursuant to this

subsection, it will be subject to the condition that any such special waiver

will expire at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday evenings and midnight

on Friday and Saturday evenings.



(1) Any person who violates any portion of this ordinance shall receive

a verbal order to cease or abate the noise immediately or within a reasonable

time period, except that after 8:00 p.m. and until 8:00 a.m. any person

designated to enforce this ordinance need not issue a verbal order to cease

or abate the noise before charging any person with a violation of this


(2) If the order to cease or abate the noise is not complied with, or

is complied with and then violated again within sixty (60) days, the person

or persons responsible for the noise under Section 527.03 shall be charged

with a violation of this ordinance and be subject to a fine of not more

than five hundred dollars ($500.00).


Any person violating any of the provisions of this article shall be

punished in accordance with section 501.99(a) for general Code penalty

if no specific penalty is provided. Each day such violation is committed

or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense and shall

be punishable as such.

As an additional remedy, the operation or maintenance of device, instrument,

vehicle or machinery in violation of any provision of this article, which

operation or maintenance cause discomfort or annoyance to reasonable persons

of normal sensitiveness or which endangers the comfort, repose, health

or peace of residents in the area, shall be deemed, and is declared to

be a public nuisance and may be subject to abatement summarily by a restraining

order or injunction issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.


In any case where a provision of this article is found to be in conflict

with any other provision of the Morgantown Code existing on the effective

date of this chapter, the provision which establishes the more stringent

standard for the promotion and protection of the health and safety of the

people shall prevail. In any case where a provision of this article is

found to be in conflict with any other provision of the Morgantown Code

existing on the effective date of this article which established a less

stringent standard for the promotion and protection of the health and safety

of the people, the provision of this article shall prevail; and such other

provisions are hereby declared to be repealed to the extent that they may

be found in conflict with this article.


Should any of the articles, sections, paragraphs, sentences, clauses

or phrases of this chapter be declared unconstitutional or invalid, at

the valid judgment or decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, such

unconstitutionality or invalidity shall not affect the validity of the

chapter in its entirety or any of the remaining articles, sections, paragraphs,

sentences, clauses and phrases.