How early is too early in the morning to mow your lawn? What Charlotte law says

Peaceful mornings can quickly be ruined by the sound of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and construction equipment.

A Charlotte resident recently posted to Nextdoor about excessive noise pollution coming from a nearby construction site in South Park.

“It is absolutely impossible to enjoy the cool morning temps here in South Park because of the loud leaf blowers starting before 7 a.m. and construction noises that begin at 8 a.m.,” the poster wrote. “Right now, someone is feeding wood branches into a chipper down the street. Doors and windows shut tight and we still have the noise pollution.”

Luckily, Charlotte has a noise ordinance that sets times when loud machinery can be operated to shield residents from the ruckus.

What does Charlotte’s noise ordinance say?

According to Charlotte’s noise ordinance, lawnmowers and construction machinery cannot be operated from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. in residential areas or within 300 feet of residential areas.

“Construction machinery” includes any of the following tools, according to the law:

  • Air compressors

  • Pile drivers

  • Sledgehammers

  • Bulldozers

  • Front-end loaders

  • Cranes

  • Steam or electric hoists

  • Off-road construction vehicles other than trucks

  • Pumps

  • Pneumatic tools

  • Blasting

  • Power tools

  • Tunneling machines

  • Devices with internal combustion engines

  • Devices that emit impulsive sound

  • Construction devices that create vibration

  • Metal plates used in street construction to temporarily cover excavations

  • Any other construction devices

What is the penalty for violating the noise ordinance?

A $100 fine can be issued after the first noise ordinance violation, according to the city. Fines of $500 and $1,000 can be issued for the second and third violations, respectively.

Property owners who frequently violate the noise ordinance could be labeled as “chronic noise producers,” and be required to develop a noise mitigation plan, according to the city. Noise mitigation plans may include:

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

  • Placement, orientation and operation of noise-producing equipment

  • Structural changes to address noise nuisance

  • Self-monitoring and reporting requirements

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

Chronic noise producers who fail to adhere to noise mitigation plans could face $1,000 in fines, court action, and suspension of outdoor music at their property for up to 18 months, according to the city.

How to report a noise violation in Charlotte

Noise violations can be reported 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.

Officers who respond to noise-related calls test the level of sound at a property by using a sound level meter, according to CMPD.