Lexington Noise Ordinance under review: a comprehensive look at challenges and potential solutions

LEXINGTON, KY — The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) Social Services and Public Safety Committee is set to discuss the city’s noise ordinance on Tuesday. The presentation, led by Hannah Eiden, Legislative Aide for the 3rd District, will cover the history, current guidelines, enforcement data, case studies, challenges, and potential next steps for the noise ordinance.

Historical Background

The enforcement of the noise ordinance has been a longstanding issue within LFUCG, according to the presentation. The Council first discussed the matter from the perspective of industrial noise near neighborhoods. A task force held meetings, exploring variables and proposing findings such as a Noise Officer, Noise Board, and penalties. However, the outcome failed to implement these measures.

Current Ordinance Guidelines

The current ordinance defines noise disturbances as any sound that endangers or injures humans or animals, annoys or disturbs a reasonable person, or endangers personal or real property. Specific prohibitions include operating tools or equipment during certain hours, loudspeakers, music, repairing motor vehicles, and barking dogs.

Enforcement and Response

The Lexington Police Department is responsible for investigating noise complaints, issuing citations, and determining fines ranging from $50 to $500. From May 2022 to May 2023, a total of 5,705 noise disturbance calls were recorded, with various outcomes such as arrests, citations, and investigations. The calls were distributed across different sectors and streets in the city.

Case Study Analysis

The presentation includes an analysis of noise ordinances in five other cities:

  1. Elkhart, Indiana: Implemented an “anti-boom” zero-tolerance noise program with fines ranging from $250 to $2,500.
  2. Knoxville, Tennessee: Mandates a maximum noise level for vehicles and enforces a penalty of $114.50 for violations.
  3. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina: Enforces noise violations with penalties ranging from $100 to $1,000 and includes a Noise Mitigation Plan.
  4. Boulder, Colorado: Uses zoning districts to set maximum decibel levels and fines ranging from $30 to $300.
  5. Portland, Oregon: Includes a maximum decibel level for each zone and penalties up to $1,000.

Challenges and Potential Next Steps

The presentation identifies challenges such as funding, staffing, citation process, difficulty in enforcement, and the intertwining of neighborhoods and businesses. Potential next steps include forming an internal working group, revisiting the Noise Board and Noise Officer proposal, exploring the use of decibel readers, reviewing the fine structure, and exploring joint enforcement between Code Enforcement and LPD.


The upcoming LFUCG Social Services and Public Safety Committee meeting will provide a comprehensive review of the Lexington Noise Ordinance. The discussion aims to address the ongoing challenges and explore potential solutions to enhance noise control within the city. The meeting’s outcome may pave the way for significant changes in the way noise disturbances are handled in Lexington, reflecting the community’s evolving needs and expectations.

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