PORT RICHEY — The city's controversial law banning businesses from playing music outdoors is one note closer to being overturned.
The council on Tuesday night pushed to replace what opponents have called a mood-killer and bust on business. A compromise would allow businesses to follow the same sound rules as homeowners: 60 decibels during the day and 55 decibels at night — about as loud as a typical conversation — as measured from the property line.
Within two weeks, council members said, they will vote to replace the ban with the compromise law. In six months, the city will vote again to keep the law permanently or try something else.
Members stopped short of passing an emergency ordinance to immediately suspend the ban, a step business owners have suggested for weeks. But lawyer Steve Booth said the new decibel limits would give businesses a way to keep their music on without worrying about a $65 ticket.
Council members unanimously approved the compromise law's first reading Tuesday, saying they hoped it would edge the city code closer to a middle ground.
"It never was our intention on council ... to shut the bands down. We just wanted the annoyance factor to go down," council member Bill Colombo said Wednesday. A law "where the businesses can do business and the residents don't unduly suffer — that has always been the goal."
Daniel Hess, a University of South Florida engineering professor specializing in noise ordinances, has volunteered to help craft the city's future sound code, City Attorney Michael Brannigan said.
"I want to get some relief to the businesses, so they can function and start getting back the clients they think they're losing," council member Terry Rowe said. "We have some more work to do."
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