As the city of Palmetto seeks to develop a new noise ordinance with hopes to develop an entertainment district, according to city attorney Mark Barnebey, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce thinks the city’s direction is the “best and most fair” ordinance being considered yet.
Manatee County finalized its ordinance in September and gave Palmetto and Bradenton the opportunity to piggy back, but both cities declined. Both the Bradenton council and the Palmetto commission agree the unincorporated areas of the county do not have the same needs as the two cities’ urban corridor.
Bradenton cleared two key hurdles last week to move its ordinance forward. Most importantly the city looks to eliminate language associated with amplified music to allow all decibel levels to rise from 65 to 75. Those levels may climb higher as city officials look to designate an entertainment district, as well.
This is Palmetto’s second attempt at revisiting its ordinance. In October of 2015, officials concluded a lengthy debate relating to amplified music, but ultimately determined the city didn’t have a problem and scrapped the whole proposal. Commissioner Harold Smith wasn’t involved in the 2015 debate, but he’s in the same place now as the commission was then.
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“We don’t have a noise problem in the city of Palmetto,” Smith said, noting he would oppose any spending for decibel meters as well as any significant changes that would reduce noise levels or times.
The city’s new ordinance looks to significantly increase decibel levels in targeted areas to 85 between 6 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. That consensus did not come without debate. Vice Mayor Brian Williams suggested shutting noise levels off at 2 a.m. while it was suggested at one point to do it at 1 a.m.
“If you turn the music off at 1 a.m., you won’t have any new businesses and the ones you do have will close,” Smith said. “I won’t agree to that.”
Officials will now begin the task of determining a general outline of potential entertainment districts, but are looking at the newly formed Old Main Historic/10th Avenue District, Riverside Drive and the Bradenton Area Convention Center. Those are tentative areas and do not include existing commercial districts, which would also be under the same rules.
Commissioner Tambra Varndadore criticized Bradenton’s Old Main Street and said she didn’t want, “a lot of fights and crime” in downtown Palmetto. Barnebey said Palmetto could require businesses selling hard liquor to be separated by a predetermined distance to avoid having bars side by side. Officials will renew discussions next week with a first look at potential new entertainment districts.