BELLEAIR SHORE — The Town Commission took final action at its Dec. 17 meeting on ordinances that set standards for allowable noise levels in the town and eliminate some restrictions on beach activities.
The noise ordinance for the first time puts decibel level limits on noise allowed. That will make the law more enforceable, Town Attorney Regina Kardash has said.
The need for a tougher noise ordinance was prompted by resident complaints about a “party house” where “loud music goes on and on for hours,” according to Deputy Mayor Deborah Roseman, and can be heard by neighbors and passers-by in town.
When the ordinance was passed on first reading in November, it called for a maximum of 72 dBA, a weighted decibel level, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 55 dBA for the overnight hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Kardash said that was in line with the noise restrictions of Pinellas County and surrounding communities.
But resident Doug Seith, a close neighbor to the party house, was present at that meeting and said he would like to see the decibel limits lowered. The commission agreed to reconsider the noise limits at the final reading of the ordinance.
Seith emailed the attorney requesting a change to both the decibel limits and the time frames. He proposed a maximum decibel level of 60 dBA from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and 50 dBA overnight from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Seith said current research by the National Audiology Society says anything over 70 decibels is considered “loud, distracting, and you cannot concentrate.”
The commission decided to meet Seith’s decibel recommendations part way, keeping the time frame as is, while lowering the maximum allowable decibel level to 67 dBA during the day, and to 50 dBA overnight from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Seith was not at the December meeting.
Roseman said the lower decibel level limits are appropriate for Belleair Shore, a totally residential community with no commercial activity.
Asked whether the noise restrictions would also apply to lawn mowers or leaf blowers, Kardash said, “You cannot differentiate between types or sources of sound.”
The noise ordinance with allowable decibel levels revised downward was approved by the commission in a 3-0 vote. Commissioners Steve Blume and Raymond Piscitelli were absent from the meeting.
More beach activities to be allowed
While toughening the noise ordinance, the commission also voted to remove some of the prior restrictions on activities allowed on the beach.
The new law eliminates a prohibition on bicycles and inflatables. Also, non-motorized watercraft are now allowed.
Town Clerk Barbara Colucci said signs at the town’s three beach accesses and on the beach would be redone to reflect the changes.
Town clerk gets year-end bonus
On the recommendation of Mayor Robert Schmidt, the commission unanimously voted to give Colucci a bonus of $500. Schmidt said she should be rewarded for “her diligence and all the hard work she’s put in this past year.”
Roseman said Colucci is “worth her weight in gold. We couldn’t do without her.”
“Sounds great. She’s terrific,” said Commissioner Dorothy Niewiarowski.