Noise, sound pollution ordinances’ sunset could be extended

Noise ordinance could become part of zoning code

Sarasota County’s noise ordinance has been a focus of attention for Siesta Key organizations, with residents and business owners working together on quality-of-life issues on the island. Photo by Norman Schimmel

The Sarasota County Commission will hold a public hearing on Sept. 25 to determine whether the sunset dates for the county’s Noise and Air and Sound Pollution ordinances should be extended for one year, to Nov. 18, 2013.

The Sept. 11 vote authorizing advertisement of the public hearing was unanimous.

However, Commissioner Joe Barbetta asked Assistant Zoning Administrator Donna Thompson whether the two measures could be separated in the future.

The Noise Ordinance need not seem appropriate in combination with the ordinance regulating broadcast burning and agricultural pile burning, for example, Barbetta pointed out.

Thompson said staff was looking at the possibility of putting the Noise Ordinance into the county’s zoning code.

The current situation was confusing, Barbetta added.

“Always has been,” Commissioner Nora Patterson pointed out.

A staff memo to the County Commission, dated Sept. 11 — the day the board addressed the matter during a regular meeting in Venice — said the one-year extension of the sunset date for the Noise Ordinance “would afford staff the opportunity to engage citizens for input with regards to noise levels, enforcement and penalties.”

During an Aug. 7 presentation to members of the Siesta Key Village Association, Rob Lewis, the county’s director of planning and development services, had discussed his staff’s plans to seek public comments on the noise ordinance, if the sunset extension was approved.

Lewis cautioned the SKVA members that he did not know whether the County Commission ultimately would make any changes in the Noise Ordinance, which has been a focus of attention for Siesta Village businesses.

During season, especially, restaurant and bar owners routinely handle complaints from residents about noisy patrons.

Lewis told the SKVA members he wanted give everyone with an interest in both the Noise and Air and Sound Pollution ordinances a chance to address them in public meetings and hearings.

The county will provide “lots of opportunity for involvement,” Lewis said.

The Sept. 11 memo to the County Commission added, “As part of the amendment process, staff will seek to improve the overall livability of the Air and sound Pollution Ordinance and the Noise Ordinance by evaluating them for clarity, ease of use and efficacy of the regulatory provisions.”

The memo also said that extending the Air and Sound Pollution Ordinance would “provide the opportunity to amend our rules to reflect recent state legislative action preempting local authority” to regulate certain types of burning “and requiring delegation from the Florida Forest Service to authorize land clearing burns.”

In the interim, the memo noted, enforcement of the permitting requirements under the part of the county code relating to open burning would not be enforced.