TREASURE ISLAND – City commissioners failed to see the light toward final passage of an ordinance Sept. 19 that would prevent nuisance lighting for Treasure Island residents.
After nearly an hour of discussion, the City Commission voted unanimously to continue the measure until the city’s Oct. 16 meeting to give city staff time to put together a time frame for the ordinance to become effective and research support of the business community.
“Right now, we have a lot of paper with no teeth in it,” said Leonard Mewhinney, a member of the lighting sub-committee of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, which crafted the ordinance. “I think a (effective) date would give it teeth. I’ve never seen a lighting ordinance that didn’t have a date associated with it.”
The problem is a section in the ordinance that requires homeowners, as well as commercial interests, to switch at some point to Illuminating Engineering Society full cutoff lighting, which would require an investment in new lighting fixtures.
Some suggested a residential deadline as far out as 20 to 25 years and a commercial deadline for parking lots as soon as three years.
The ordinance also calls for commercial signs to be in compliance. It states, “No sign shall have blinking, flashing or fluttering lights or illumination devices which have a challenging light intensity, brightness, color or direction.”
It also states that no colored lights can be used with signage that might be confused with traffic signals and no light is permissible that creates a traffic hazard.
“I agree,” said Commissioner Alan Bildz. “This ordinance needs to have a date.”
Bildz asked City Attorney Maura Kiefer if it would be permissible to put different sunset dates on varying applications of the ordinance (residential, nonresidential, beach, etc.) and she said, based on recent Florida litigation involving signs in Florida, any immediate required change could result in negative litigation for the city.
“It’s considered more prudent to give people some time to come into compliance,” Kiefer said. “If you don’t have a sunset provision, you become subject to it being challenged. So I highly recommend an amortization period or sunset provision.”
Kiefer said a similar ordinance in Boulder, Colo., gives residents 15 years to come into compliance.
Kiefer said she would recommend five years for both residential and nonresidential in Treasure Island.
Mayor Bob Minning wondered if the ordinance is necessary.
“What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” Minning asked. “If there has been some complaints to the city that has precipitated this ordinance I’d like to look at it. If it was the lighting at the Surf Style (beach shop), that situation has been remedied. The lighting ordinance as it reads now ensures that lighting does not adversely impact neighboring properties. What we’re talking about tonight is to require our businesses and residences to go spend money for something which there is no problem.”
Minning suggested city staff should speak with business interests in the city to get their feelings.
“It would be very enlightening to listen to our businesses in the city and find out where they stand on this,” Minning said. “I can almost guarantee you where it would be. It would not be in support of a deadline or amortization schedule.”