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Lawsuit challenges Tampa noise ordinance

TAMPA — Lawyer Mark Bentley sued the city of Tampa over its noise ordinance Wednesday, saying the local law is unconstitutional and is trumped by county and state law.

In June, the City Council amended the city's noise ordinance to target drivers with stereos that are plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet. The ordinance includes fines of $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $450 for a third offense.

The council acted after residents, many from East Tampa, begged for relief from thumping car stereos that woke them in their beds, rattled their windows and disrupted their church services.

Police said before the vote that they got more than 6,000 noise complaints a year citywide.

Bentley's lawsuit contends that the city's ordinance directly contradicts a Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission noise rule that exempts sound from vehicles from regulation. He also says the city's ordinance is overly broad, seeking to regulate sound not only on city streets but on highways controlled by state and federal authorities.

While Bentley noted that Hillsborough County commissioners asked their staff last year to draft an ordinance similar to the city's, he said the county ordinance passed on Feb. 19 differs from the city's in several ways. He seeks a judgment ruling that the city's ordinance is pre-empted by the county's and state's laws.

City Attorney Julia Mandell said she had not had a chance to review the lawsuit and in any case does not comment on pending litigation.

Lawsuit challenges Tampa noise ordinance 03/05/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 11:12pm]
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