Asheville City Council approves updates to Noise Ordinance


At their July 27 meeting, Asheville City Council voted to update the City’s Noise Ordinance with an aim to identify and prioritize noise concerns and develop clear and enforceable thresholds for noise generation.


The vote followed a year-long engagement, then a year delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID gathering restrictions were lifted, staff resumed the process of meeting with key stakeholders to update the ordinance. Staff incorporated recommended changes to the draft ordinance.  


A key part of this process was to collect sound measurement data. The measurements collected shows that all common activity, including outdoor patio and indoor activity, would not exceed the original staff recommended daytime decibel limits. They did, however, indicate that some outdoor special events may exceed decibel limits and require a sound exceedance permit, depending on which decibel levels are chosen.


As a result, the staff recommended decibel levels are:

  • Central Business District 72/67/62;
    noise reader
    Hand-held readers will be used in the field to measure noise complaints.
  • Commercial Districts 65/57;
  • Industrial Zones 70/65.


These recommended decibel levels ensure that some outdoor special events and other loud sources of sound are subject to the sound exceedance permit standards.


City staff have recommended the following next steps:

  • Delay the ordinance effective date of Sept. 15;
  • Continue to transition current noise ordinance administration away from the Asheville Police Department to Development Services (DSD) to address present noise concerns under the  current ordinance. APD will continue responding to calls for service as staffing allows.
  • Move forward with hiring and training new Noise Control staff as part of the “Reimagining Public Safety” initiative; and
  • Continue to coordinate in 2021 with ordinance stakeholders to build additional consensus around key ordinance measures. 


To review the latest version of the proposed ordinance visit this link. Find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) at this link


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