Noise Ordinance

A revision to the Town of Wake Forest's Noise Ordinance was approved by the Board of Commissioners on November 1, 2022. It can be found in the Code of Ordinances, Chapter 14, under Environment, Article III, Section 14-66 thru 14-75.

The following chart describes the days, times, and decibel levels allowed for certain activities:


Noise Limits

Permit Allowed to exceed dB(A)*

Residential Use or Activity

Max 65dB(A)


Mixed Use, Residential

Max 65dB(A)


Non-Residential Use or Activity

Max 75dB(A)


* Sec. 14-71. Permit to Exceed Maximum Sound Levels

(a) An applicant may request, and the Planning Director or the Planning Director’s designee may grant, a permit for a nonresidential use or activity to exceed the maximum sound levels set out in paragraph (1) of section 14-70, during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays only. No permit shall be issued for activities outside these time periods, no event to exceed 85 dba.


Sec. 14-72. Exceptions

The following acts and activities are exempt from the provisions of this article:

(1)     Equipment being used for construction, provided that all equipment is operated with all standard equipment manufacturer's mufflers and noise-reducing equipment in use and in proper operating condition.

(2)     Noise of safety signals, warning devices, emergency pressure relief valves.

(3)     Noise resulting from an authorized emergency vehicle.

(4)     Chimes, bells, gongs, and other unamplified sounds generated by a religious institution, as defined in the unified development ordinance.

(5)     Noise resulting from parades, lawful picketing or other public demonstrations protected by the U.S. Constitution or federal law. Regulation of noise emanating from activities for which a permit has been issued in accordance with section 14-71 shall be according to the conditions and limits stated in this article and according to any additional conditions stated on the permit.

(6)     Sporting events.

(7)     Unamplified and amplified sound at community concerts conducted, sponsored, or sanctioned by the town.

(8)     Noise from noisemakers on holidays and fireworks on holidays or at times allowed under a pyrotechnics permit issued pursuant to G.S. 14-410 et seq.

(9)     All noises coming from the normal operations of properly equipped aircraft, but not including scale model aircraft.

(10)   Practice sessions or performances by marching bands.

(11)   Noise from trains and associated railroad rolling stock when operated in proper repair and manner.

(12)   Small motors. The running of a motor not exceeding one horsepower on a refrigeration truck for the purpose of keeping perishable fruits, vegetables and all other perishable meats and foods contained in such a truck from spoiling, shall not constitute an unnecessary noise or disturbance within the meaning of this section.

(13)   Emergency work performed for the purpose of preventing or alleviating physical trauma or property damage threatened or caused by an existing or imminent peril. This emergency exception includes maintenance, backup or upkeep ("maintenance") strictly necessary to keep emergency equipment, such as generators, in operating order as prescribed by the manufacturer.

(14)   Noise created by the normal operations of the parks and recreation, police, public works and utilities departments of the town, including firearms training for police officers.

(15)   The use of lawnmowers and similar domestic tools for periodic and customary landscaping maintenance activities, during the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. only.

(Ord. No. 2022-29, 11-1-2022)


Civil penalty

Violation of this article shall subject the offender(s) to a civil penalty in the amount of 250.00. If there is more than one violation within any six-month period, then the civil penalty shall be increased for each additional violation over one during such period, as follows. The date of the first violation shall establish the beginning date for the initial six-month period. The next violation within that six-month period shall be considered the second violation. Any violations that follow within that six-month period shall be numbered sequentially. The penalty shall be:

  • (1) Second offense within same six-month period: $500.00.

  • (2) Third offense within same six-month period: $750.00.

  • (3) Fourth offense within same six-month period: $1,000.00.

  • (4) Fifth and any subsequent offense(s) within same six-month period: $2,000.00 per offense.

The complete ordinance can be found in the Code of Ordinances, Chapter 14, under Environment, Article III, Section 14-66 thru 14-75.

For more information, contact the Wake Forest Planning Department at 919-435-9510.


Permits – Sec 14-71 (only allowed for non-residential use)

Time Period
  • May apply for permit to exceed during the following:
    • Sunday – Thursday, 8 am–9 pm
    • Friday – Saturday, 8 am–10 pm
  • May not exceed six (6) hours in a 24-hour period
  • Permit may be issued for multiple days up to one year
Validity period
  • 365-day period
  • Maximum of 85 dB(A)
Application must be submitted at least seven (7) days in advance
Cost of the application
  • $100
Turn-around for the review of a noise permit application
  • 7 days


How to Apply for a Permit

  1. Visit

  2. Select “Submit a Project for Review”

  3. Create an account

  4. County: Select the appropriate county (Wake or Franklin) from the dropdown list

  5. Application Category: Select “Planning/Development Services” from the dropdown list

  6. Application Type: Select “Noise Permit” 


Please Note 

  • Applications should be submitted at least seven (7) days in advance.

  • The application fee is $100.


Wake Forest Town Hall - Third Floor
301 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC 27587