City officials on Wednesday dove into potential revisions of the city’s noise ordinance for the first time in months after residents, businesses and organizations raised a lot of their own noise in wanting change.
Officials will determine what areas of the city might undergo changes to allow higher decibel levels and longer weekend hours, which currently end outside noises at 10 p.m., seven days a week. That has been a detriment to some businesses within the city’s fledgling entertainment district along Ninth Street West.
If one thing is clear for officials, it’s knowing that the end result of their decisions will please some and likely anger others.
“Everything we do is going to disrupt someone,” said Councilman Patrick Roff. “That’s just the way it is. This has been going on for some time, and we all have had an opportunity to think about it. This is a problem citywide, so we have to have a noise ordinance. But what we are trying to do is relax our ordinance to be more business friendly.”
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Cities that have really vibrant entertainment districts know those things are big economic development drivers, so they don’t want to kill the golden goose, but want it done in an efficient manner.
Carl Callahan, city administrator
Roff brought up the noise ordinance a year ago, when Motorworks Brewing on Ninth Street West began having an issue with a nearby homeowner. Roff said that homeowner was “abusing the police department when they have more important things to do.”
Motorworks subsequently launched an online survey in May that showed overwhelming support for a relaxed ordinance favoring a stronger nightlife presence. That survey was backed up with a similar showing of support within a survey of Manatee Chamber of Commerce members.
The chamber then backed up that survey with a letter to the city in support of relaxing noise ordinance restrictions. City administrator Carl Callahan said officials need to look at the new ordinance as a “sound management” concept.
“The largest part of the community won’t be impacted by changes being considered,” Callahan said. “But it’s important to look at it as sound management, meaning there’s two sides to every picture. Cities that have really vibrant entertainment districts know those things are big economic development drivers, so they don’t want to kill the golden goose, but want it done in an efficient manner.”
We are sitting in a great position. Sarasota cracked down a lot on their music venues and we are in a position of promoting our arts and downtown growth.
Councilman Bemis Smith
Areas being targeted for changes include the entertainment district, the Old Main Street corridor, areas along the riverfront and the Village of the Arts. Roff said most residents in the village support Motorworks, but don’t support relaxing noise restrictions. Callahan said the Village is not part of an entertainment district, but there may come a time where businesses there want to do more.
“We just don’t want to be shortsighted on areas of the city that have potential for events,” Callahan said. “What the council has to do is not just look at what’s there now, but look at areas of the city where they envision that kind of growth and potential.”
The city will likely end up with a hybrid of what Manatee County passed in September and a similar approach being taken by the city of Palmetto, which is actively reviewing its noise ordinance with a future entertainment district in mind. Bradenton officials vowed to push forward with enacting a new noise ordinance and would like to see it in place by spring.
(The council needs) to strategically think about how we develop a plan that works for the city today and tomorrow and helps economic development. But we’ll need to be nimble and flexible as we establish this ordinance.
Mayor Wayne Poston
“We are sitting in a great position,” said Councilman Bemis Smith. “Sarasota cracked down a lot on their music venues, and we are in a position of promoting our arts and downtown growth. We can work on making our community more hospitable to the music industry and create an environment where more people are coming here.”
Smith acknowledged that whatever the city does, it will upset some. “I’m looking at the best interest of long-term growth of the arts and music industry and livability in the city,” he said.
Another potential tool to satisfy both sides, Smith suggested, is to provide grants to businesses to install sound insulation and redirection equipment.
The council, said Mayor Wayne Poston, needs “to strategically think about how we develop a plan that works for the city today and tomorrow and helps economic development. But we’ll need to be nimble and flexible as we establish this ordinance.”