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Beach city considers noise law

Published Oct. 18, 2005

Residents and businesses in this beach community are making a lot of noise these days. Their concern? Noise.

A beach bar that opened in April has prompted a raft of complaints from concerned residents. Those complaints moved city commissioners to draft a noise ordinance. That ordinance has the city's Chamber of Commerce expressing concerns that the proposal is "ambiguous" and "too restrictive."

At the heart of the controversy is Beach Nutts Bar and Grill, which opened in April at 9600 W Gulf Blvd. on Sunset Beach. The live music featured Thursdays through Sundays often can be heard through sliding glass doors that are open much of the time.

"There have been calls to the Police Department, to individual commissioners _ the mayor has gotten calls at home. I've gotten calls at home" about noise at Beach Nutts, said Peter Lombardi, city manager.

Records show that the bar has been cited once for exceeding allowable decibel levels in the county's noise ordinance, under which Treasure Island now operates.

"They've been close, but not over" on other occasions, Lombardi said. "Under the (current) ordinance, we can't do anything, but neighbors 1,500 feet away are still complaining that they can hear music."

So the city decided to write its own ordinance.

The proposed ordinance does not specify decibel levels, but prohibits "any loud and raucous noise," which is defined in the document as "any sound which, because of its volume level, duration and character, annoys, disturbs injures or endangers the comfort, health, peace or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensibilities within the city limits."

Representatives of the Treasure Island Chamber have asked commissioners to amend the ordinance to specify decibel levels. Otherwise, Chamber president Carol Malkin said, "they are leaving so much to the discrimination of the police" to determine what is too loud.

Chamber representatives also are asking that the ordinance differentiate between the city's commercial and residential zones.

The draft of the ordinance will be reviewed at a commission workshop at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and a second reading is scheduled for Nov. 6. If approved a second time, the ordinance will be up for third reading and adoption after a public hearing in mid-November.

Gino Centanni, co-owner of Beach Nutts, attributes complaints against the bar to a few neighbors who have been unhappy about the bar since it opened.

In addition to the single noise citation, the bar has received 101 citations for having too many people inside. With only 13 parking spaces, the city limits the bar to serving 39 people at a time. The bar owners have purchased vacant land across the street which they plan to use as a parking lot.

Centanni insists the bar has been conscientious about limiting noise. He said they close early on most weeknights and dismissed one band the owners thought were too loud.

"We are trying," he said.