CLEARWATER — After some debate, the City Council has decided not to impose new limits on loud, late-night music at Shephard's Beach Resort.
City Council member George Cretekos has been pushing for Clearwater to set a cutoff time of 11 p.m. weekdays and midnight weekends for outdoor music at Shephard's. He says the noise from bands playing outside Shephard's routinely bothers residents on Sand Key.
"We're not shutting them down. We're not asking them to curtail their business. We're asking them to respect the community," Cretekos said at Thursday night's council meeting.
The issue came up when the council was asked to approve a development agreement that will allow Shephard's to grow from 96 hotel rooms to 186. The agreement also awards the resort 68 hotel rooms beyond what would normally be allowed for a property of its size.
A lawyer for Shephard's, Harry Kline, argued that it would be unfair for the council to impose noise restrictions on the resort. He said Shephard's had spent tens of thousands of dollars on architects and engineers to design an attractive new building that meets all of the city's listed requirements for beach hotels.
"We followed the established process. We followed the criteria. Never was there a hint that outside noise was part of this process. Never," Kline said. "It's that simple."
Aside from Cretekos, other council members weren't willing to single out one business for its noise. They noted that Clearwater already has a citywide noise ordinance.
"I get really uncomfortable when we start picking on one project or company or establishment," said council member Carlen Petersen. "It's a slippery slope when you start doing that."
The council ended up approving the city's agreement with Shephard's.
There also was some debate over how much of a problem Shephard's really is.
The resort's attorney, Kline, said Clearwater police records showed that there have been only four noise complaints made against Shephard's this year, and the resort's last citation for excessive noise came more than 10 years ago.
Cretekos retorted, "A lot of people will not call to complain even though they're having difficulty because of the noise." He added that he'd seen a document listing more than 700 complaints at Shephard's over 10 years for one problem or another.
Only one Sand Key resident showed up at the meeting to complain about noise from Shephard's.
"When you've got your doors closed and your TV on and you can't listen to your TV, that's bad," said Paul Kleman. "It rattles the doors. You can make out the songs they're playing."
Shephard's, at 601-619 S Gulfview Blvd., plans to demolish the building on the eastern part of its nearly 3-acre spread and replace it with a 134-foot-high tower with a swimming pool on top.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4160.