PALMETTO -- Unfairly penalizing responsible businesses and a sense of redundancy with the existing city noise ordinance led to the Palmetto City Commission dropping a proposed amplified music ordinance Monday.
Officials spent months scrutinizing the city's noise ordinance last year, voting in October to essentially leave it alone but adding fines to give teeth to enforcement. The city decided to provide a warning for the first violation. A second offense would cost $250, a third would cost $500, and a fourth would cost $500 and a mandatory court appearance.
In step with the lengthy noise ordinance debate, the city also debated a new a amplified music ordinance pertaining to outdoor eating and drinking establishments. he debate began last summer but ended Monday with commissioners opting to no longer proceed.
"We've gone back and forth on this," said city attorney Mark Barnebey. "In 2014, the city received a number of complaints about a restaurant. During discussions, it was agreed that the city did not want to discourage outdoor eating and drinking establishments. However, the exception was a business with amplified music near residential areas."
City officials were careful not to name the business. City Clerk Jim Freeman said it was a business near Riviera Dunes "but it had closed down and reopened since this debate began and there have been no complaints since."
City officials struggled to refine language to target specific businesses in specific areas. Barnebey said the draft ordinance would apply to all outdoor eating and drinking businesses and all would have to apply for the $1,250 annual conditional use permit.
"That's too much," said Commissioner Tambra Varnadore. "That's a problem. If the cost is $1,250, I don't want to move forward."
City officials had previously discussed setting standards for businesses by initiating a one-time permit that would automatically renew with no annual cost for nonviolators. Businesses violating noise restrictions would have to reapply on the anniversary of the permit and pay the fee with the possibility of having to go before the commission to explain the violations.
Commissioners were told few, if any, violations had been reported from existing businesses. Commissioners were unanimous in agreeing to drop the proposed ordinance, saying the noise ordinance effectively governs potential violators and they had no desire to penalize responsible businesses.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitternote>