TREASURE ISLAND – City leaders took the first step Sept. 4 toward preventing nuisance lighting from becoming a factor for city residents.
The City Commission voted 4-1 to pass on first reading an ordinance to amend Chapter 68 of the city’s land use regulations regarding lighting use, pending a few adjustments in the verbiage prior to final approval.
The amendment addresses new development and existing structures, which must use outdoor lighting “that does not adversely impact neighboring properties.”
Any artificial light that shines on neighboring properties “that annoys or disturbs the persons inhabiting such neighboring residences will be considered a nuisance and be prohibited.”
It goes on to state residential single-family homes must use Illuminating Engineering Society full cut-off lighting, which provides no direct uplight or light above horizontal. The specifications go on to state that light must be kept within an owner’s property.
Tennis courts, commercial and residential parking lots and beach lighting also must use IES full cut-off.
However, the current ordinance has no effective date, which was a concern to Commissioner Alan Bildz.
“I’d like to see us put a 5- to 10-year time limit on this (to meet the standard),” Bildz said.
Leonard Mewhinney, a member of the lighting sub-committee of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, which crafted the ordinance, said he believed the ordinance needs an effective date, which Kiefer said would put it in line with the city’s sign ordinance.
“It’s not unusual to have a sunset date,” Kiefer said. “We have a 7-year sunset date on our sign ordinance.”
Commissioner Butch Ellsworth said adding a time frame for conversion was asking a little too much.
“This is going to cause a lot of problems and we’re going to need the lighting police,” he said. “We’re going to have to go out and check every light. I think the ordinance is fine (the way it is).”
Mayor Bob Minning argued that residents with existing lighting that met city standards would be forced to upgrade to a higher standard in the future at their own expense.
City Attorney Maura Kiefer noted that the way the ordinance reads now, it does not require residents to put in new lighting. The law, as it currently reads, requires changes only when lighting is a “nuisance” for neighbors.
In other action, commissioners:
• Passed on first reading a resolution setting the millage rate for fiscal 2013 at 3.1368 mills, which is the same rate as a year ago. However, with a decrease of 1.93 percent in taxable property values within the city, the tax rate will generate $85,190 less than a year ago, based on a 97 percent ad valorem revenue collection rate.
• Passed on first reading the proposed $16.64 million budget, which includes a number of capital improvements, such as the Beach Trail and the reconstruction of the Isle of Capri and Palms bridges. The number of special events will stay the same and funding has been budgeted for the fourth annual Sanding Ovations, as well as the July 4th fireworks. The budget also includes $100,800 earmarked for Gulf Beaches Public Library, the cost of regular beach raking and $231,525 – a 5 percent increase – for the PSTA Beach Trolley.
• Passed an ordinance on first reading that allows partial terms caused by redistricting to not be included in the normal six-year limitation for members of the city’s board and committee members.
• Extended the city’s first responder agreement with Pinellas County for one year. The city, in return, will receive $409,210.
• Authorized the execution of the Federally Public Assistance Funding Agreement with the Department of Community Affairs to allow for the recovery of funds from FEMA caused by Tropical Storm Debby.