Student Parties Concern Neighbors

Supervisors Plan To Explore Options

New leadership on the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors in the new year is confronting an old problem.

Dan Lyons, selected in the first meeting of 2020 Monday to serve as chairman, had asked earlier to have a review of the county’s noise ordinance placed on the agenda. Lyons has received complaints about loud noise and misbehavior at parties in student housing in his Kerrs Creek District.

Several of the residents of neighborhoods near the student “pole houses” on Furrs Mill Road attended Monday’s meeting to express their displeasure. “Students are disrespecting the residents of Woods Ridge and Maury Cliffs subdivisions,” said Carole Bennett.

Neighbors spoke of parties attended by hundreds of students from Washington and Lee University in which loud music blares, profanity can be heard, public urination can be seen and trash is left behind. Tom Bennett said he believes a lot of under-aged drinking is occurring at these parties.

Such “town and gown” conflicts between county residents and their college student neighbors are nothing new. A campus coalition to address the conflicts was formed a few years ago. It seems the issue about noise gets raised every few years without a resolution ever being reached.

The county has a noise ordinance on the books that prohibits loud noise during certain hours – after 11 p.m. weekdays and after midnight on weekends. Loud noise is defined as that which can be plainly heard from within the confines of a dwelling when the noise emanates from 50 or more feet away and is generated by a gathering of 10 or more people.

Lyons said he would like to see staff revisit the ordinance and propose revisions that “are very specific and have teeth in it. … Maybe we need to reach out to W&L and say we’re not happy.”

The issue has been studied and that’s why the county has a noise ordinance written the way it is, responded Walkers Creek Supervisor Jay Lewis. “I’m not sure what revisions