Petitioning City of Harrisonburg

Revisit City of Harrisonburg, VA - Noise Ordinance

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As a citizen of Harrisonburg, VA and concerned student of James Madison University I think it is time we revisit the city's "Noise Ordinance" law on its 1 year anniversary and take a look at how truly ridiculous it is. The law states "excessive noise is a serious hazard to the public health, welfare, peace and safety, and the quality of life. It is, therefore, the policy of the city and the purpose of this section to prevent such excessive noise."

Sounds fair enough, except excessive noise under this ordinance is "anything exceeding 55 decibels at night and 65 decibels during the day" - which is as loud as the following: "conversation in restaurant, office, background music, air conditioning unit at 100 feet." Since when is background music and conversation in a restaurant a serious hazard to public health? Interesting take by the city of Harrisonburg. For reference, the bridge over I-81 has a pretty consistent volume of 80-90 decibels – which is the standard sound of moving traffic. Essentially what this ordinance provides is grounds for law enforcement officers to, at any time, conclude a gathering of residents, while issuing a ticket exceeding $200 plus court fees and a misdemeanor charge.

This applies to all gatherings in excess of 10 people, so basically, every gathering that occurs in the city with very few exemptions. Truly a sad and un-American policy aimed at taking advantage of college students for the sole purpose of city revenue at the expense of the very students who make Harrisonburg sustainable. Harrisonburg could not prosper without JMU and its students, and JMU and its students could not prosper without Harrisonburg, so we need to work together to enact a change that works for all, allowing the voice of both students and full-time residents of Harrisonburg to be heard at City Council. Let's make this ordinance a thing of the past JMU!

News piece aired on WHSV Fox: http://www.whsv.com/content/news/Harrisonburg-City-Council-revisits-Noise-Ordinance-and-Mass-Outdoor-Social-Gathering-laws-439009633.html

Attached is a petition, we need 5,000 signatures (less than 25% of our student body) to have the city revisit this law. Share this post and spread the word. 

-Ryan Kerwick

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