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Shephard's resort on Clearwater Beach might face noise limits before expanding

CLEARWATER — Shephard's Beach Resort, the well-known waterfront spot with a reputation for being party central, wants to nearly double its number of hotel rooms.

But before the Clearwater City Council signs off on this plan, some council members are thinking about putting limits on loud, late-night music at the resort.

"Probably the biggest complaint that we receive from that facility is the noise that it generates," Councilman George Cretekos said.

Council members will take up the subject at their meeting tonight. They must decide whether to approve a development agreement that would allow Shephard's to grow from 96 hotel rooms to 186.

The agreement also would award the resort 68 hotel rooms beyond what would normally be allowed for a property of its size. To bring more mid-priced hotels to Clearwater Beach, the city is allowing taller hotels on smaller parcels. Clearwater is letting developers draw units from a pool of 1,385 extra rooms if they meet certain guidelines.

But the City Council has to okay this. At the council's work session Monday, Cretekos suggested requiring Shephard's to cut off its live music acts after a certain hour if it wants the extra rooms.

Shephard's often has DJs or reggae bands perform on an outdoor stage beside its private beach.

Cretekos suggested a cutoff time of 11 p.m. After Councilwoman Carlen Petersen noted that 11 p.m. might be a bit early on weekends, Cretekos suggested a midnight cutoff time on weekends.

William Shephard, who has owned and operated the waterfront resort since the 1970s, had no comment on the matter when reached by telephone.

City Attorney Pam Akin said Clearwater's noise ordinance requires police officers to measure decibel levels to determine if an establishment is breaking the law. But the city law doesn't set any time limits for amplified sound.

It's not clear whether other council members will vote for Cretekos' idea at tonight's meeting, although Mayor Frank Hibbard said he'd be okay with it.

Shephard's, 601-619 S Gulfview Blvd., first opened in 1976 as the Lagoon and has steadily expanded into a full-fledged resort with an attached entertainment complex. It has a hotel, restaurant, lounge, tiki bars, private beach and nightclub. It is a popular weekend party spot known for its weekly bikini contest.

Shephard's now 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.

Cretekos lives on Sand Key, across Clearwater Pass from Shephard's, and he hears complaints about the resort's music from his neighbors.

"If there's one complaint that I repeatedly hear . . . it's that at 11 o'clock and later at night, you hear Shephard's," he said.

Cretekos worries that a taller hotel building will make the noise reverberate farther across the water.

Also tonight, the council is expected to approve a pair of new, mid-priced beach hotels between Hamden and Coronado drives south of Third Street. These would replace a handful of small buildings such as the Sandman Resort, Sea Cove Motel and Alex Family Restaurant.

The northernmost hotel would be a 142-room, overnight-stay accommodation, possibly a Hampton Inn, while just to the south would be a 118-room extended-stay hotel.

The developer of the two hotels is asking for 162 extra hotel rooms. The project isn't running into any opposition. Unlike at Shephard's, there are no plans for a soundstage.

"Is there a band shell provided in this property?" Cretekos asked city staffers. After hearing that there won't be one, he said, "There is a rather significant difference between these two projects."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

. Fast facts

If you go

What: Clearwater City Council meeting.

When: 6 p.m. today.

Where: Council Chambers, City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave.

Shephard's resort on Clearwater Beach might face noise limits before expanding 12/16/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:44pm]
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