Noise Ordinance

City of Charlotte Noise Ordinance

The City of Charlotte Noise Ordinance sets standards to mitigate noise nuisances for residents and visitors while balancing the needs of businesses to operate effectively. Charlotte City Council voted on June 24, 2019, to approve amendments to the city's existing Noise Ordinance, effective Oct. 1, 2019, to provide clarity for enforcement and other changes. View the City of Charlotte Noise Ordinance.

A noise violation occurs when sound exceeds specified limits – with consideration of location, time and circumstance – and is disruptive to the enjoyment and use of a residential property. Acceptable decibel (dB) levels are measured at the property line of the commercial property from which the sound is generated. Acceptable noise levels are:

  • 85 dB(C) Sunday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.; 60 dB(C) Sunday through Thursday between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. the following day

  • 85 dB(C) Friday or Saturday between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.; 60 dB(C) between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. the following day

Enforcement of the Noise Ordinance is shared by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) and Housing and Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement. Officers will monitor noise levels and decide if there is a violation. A $100 fine can be issued after the first violation.

If a property owner frequently violates the ordinance, CMPD may label them a chronic noise producer. Chronic noise producers will be referred to Code Enforcement and may be required to develop and adhere to a noise mitigation plan. A noise mitigation plan may include:

  • Restrictions on days of week or hours of noise-producing activity

  • Placement, orientation, and operation of noise-producing activity or equipment

  • Structural changes to address noise nuisance

  • Self-monitoring and reporting requirements

  • A schedule for implementation, review, and possible revision or termination of the plan

Chronic noise producers who refuse to cooperate or fail to follow the prescribed mitigation plan are subject to $1,000 in fines, court action, and suspension of outdoor amplified or acoustic music for up to 18 months.

The Noise Ordinance includes additional restrictions near schools, houses of worship and medical facilities. Around these facilities, noise buffers restrict the use of amplified or unreasonably loud noise within 150 feet of the property line during hours of operation. Property owners at these locations must post signage identifying service/session hours.

Why did the city update its Noise Ordinance?

City Council adopted the previous version of the Noise Ordinance in 2011. Significant growth and development in the Uptown area and throughout the city have created a need for revisions.

How do I report a noise violation?

Residents can report suspected noise violations by calling 311 or 704-336-7600 at any time, or 911 if a noise violation is creating a nuisance at the time of the call.

Who enforces the city's Noise Ordinance?

CMPD officers respond to all noise-related calls and handle enforcement. Housing and Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement representatives will work with residents to provide education about the Noise Ordinance, follow up with noise violators as appropriate, and help develop noise mitigation plans when necessary.

What is the fine for a noise violation?

CMPD officers may issue a fine of $100 for the first noise violation of any kind. For the second violation within one year of the first violation, a $500 fine will be issued. For the third and subsequent violation(s) within one year of the first violation, a $1,000 fine will be issued.

What is dB(A) and dB(C)?

The decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement for sound levels. The terms dB(A) and dB(C) refer to the scales used to measure dB frequencies. The dB(A) sound meter measures mid-range frequencies (e.g. motorcycles and lawn mowers). The dB(C) sound meter measures high and low frequencies, typically heard at entertainment venues.

How does this impact free speech?

The Noise Ordinance does not impede free speech. The only impact on speech is the restriction of amplified sound and unreasonably loud noises within noise buffers.

What are noise buffers?

A noise buffer is a regulation that limits the volume of noise around certain noise-sensitive developments such as schools, churches or medical facilities. Around these facilities, noise buffers restrict the use of amplified or unreasonably loud noise within 150 feet of the property line during hours of operation.

Noise Buffer Maps

What is amplified sound?

Amplified sound is Sound produced by bullhorns, loudspeakers, megaphones, or any other mechanical or electronic device that can produce an unreasonably loud sound.

How did the city choose 150 feet for the noise buffer distance?

The city adopted 150 feet based on the level at which noise carries, and best practices from benchmark cities including Atlanta, Miami and Raleigh.  

How does the Noise Ordinance impact residential areas?

Updates to the Noise Ordinance made on June 24, 2019, now consider the bass components of noise, which may be applicable in some residential situations (e.g. a residence near an entertainment venue).

Does the Noise Ordinance cover construction noise?

Currently, the operation of construction machinery is not allowed at night between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Exceptions occur when construction by city crews or city contractors is necessary to maintain public safety or prevent disruption to transportation or public utilities. Chronic producers of construction noise may be required to develop a noise mitigation plan.

Are Uptown residences multifamily or commercial? What is the expectation for noise levels near these residences?

Uptown residences, hotels, motels, and other short-term accommodations are considered residentially occupied property. Sound and time limits for commercial establishments and outdoor amplification are:

  • 85 dB(C) Sunday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.; 60 dB(C) Sunday through Thursday between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. the following day

  • 85 dB(C) Friday or Saturday between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.; 60 dB(C) between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. the following day

Hows does the city handle commercial refuse companies that collect trash during restricted hours?

Residents should contact 311 or 704-336-7600 to report these noise issues.

Did the city consider lowering decibel levels to restrict lawn mower and power tool use?

The ordinance provides guidance to CMPD to help determine which sounds are unreasonably loud with consideration to the character of a specific area, including residential areas, and restrictions for the time of day (restricted from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.).

Does the Noise Ordinance apply in extraterritorial jurisdictions?

No. The Noise Ordinance is only enforced within Charlotte city limits.

Additional Resources

Large outdoor music facility permit application

Sound Application Permit Request (Public property)

Sound Application Permit Request (Private property)