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New Port Richey moves to strengthen noise ordinance

Because decibel readers don’t adequately pick up bass sounds, the New Port Richey City Council has taken other measures to strengthen the city’s noise ordinance.
Published Feb. 22, 2017

NEW PORT RICHEY — A new noise ordinance passed in November did not please residents, so the City Council is revisiting it to give it more teeth.

Complaints have continued to flood in regarding "low-level sounds," specifically bass sounds, emanating from downtown bars that rattle residents' windows, New Port Richey police Chief Kim Bogart told City Council members during a meeting Tuesday night.

Booming car stereos are another source of complaints that were not addressed in the rollout of the ordinance, Bogart said.

Since the council passed the ordinance, the Police Department has received about 80 complaints, so language has been added allowing officers to issue citations without using decibel meters. In residential areas, the ordinance sets the limit at 55 decibels from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It drops to 50 decibels from 10:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. In nonresidential areas, up to 70 decibels is allowed from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The limit drops to 55 decibels from 11:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. The ordinance allows police officers to take meter readings from any property adjacent to a site identified by a complainant.

As a comparison, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists typical sound levels for a conversation 3 feet away at 60 decibels, classroom chatter at 70 decibels and a nightclub with music at 110 decibels.

The problem, however, is that decibel meters cannot pickup up the bass frequency, Bogart said. So new language in the ordinance would allow police to issue a citation if officers can hear noise that is "plainly audible from any property at a distance of 100 feet from the property line of the property which is the source of the sound between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m."

Also, the ordinance would ban "sound-amplifying equipment located on or within any motor vehicle plainly audible from a distance of 100 feet."

City Council members liked the changes, voting unanimously to approve the revised ordinance on first reading, with a second reading slated for next month.

"Hopefully, this will address this so people can sleep at night," City Council member Jeff Starkey said.

In other action, the council:

• Enacted a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city as the state continues to debate how to roll out Amendment 2, which voters approved in November, legalizing medical marijuana in Florida.

• Voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with a Winter Park real estate firm, E2L Real Estate Solutions. to take part in a venture to make a bid to the federal government to build a veterans outpatient facility on the former Community Hospital site on Marine Parkway.

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