Anna Maria’s planning and zoning board might be opening a Pandora’s box of issues at its Jan. 10 meeting when it begins discussion of loud noise problems after 10 p.m. That’s the city’s time to quiet noise and for neighbors and residents to enjoy peace and quiet.
Board chair Sandy Mattick said the board decided to discuss the noise issue because of a recent variance granted Penelope Naylor of Elm Street, and other complaints about noise.
Naylor received a variance to build an 8-foot-high fence at the rear of her property to help reduce noise levels coming from an adjacent vacation rental property.
Mattick, however, realizes the issue has been discussed many times previously in the city and law enforcement officials have said a noise ordinance is difficult to enforce.
Sgt. Dave Turner of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office-Anna Maria substation has said, “All we can do is tell them to turn the noise down.”
Trying to ticket someone for a noise violation would require noise-level meters and recorded decibel readings and that’s proven impossible to enforce in Manatee County, he said.
Mattick, however, said the board wants to discuss the issue because it’s been hearing more and more complaints about noise, caused, in particular, by renters.
She’s aware that discussion of noise at vacation rental properties could lead to discussion about rental property problems in the city.
That might not be a bad idea, she said, considering the complaints that many Holmes Beach residents have made recently about the influx of new duplexes that can accommodate a number of families — and are disrupting the family lifestyle there.
“We’re going to start with discussing the noise levels in the city, and we’d like to get as much public input as possible,” she said. If more questions and complaints arise from the noise discussion, the board will hear those issues as well, she said.
Any P&Z recommendations will be forwarded to the city commission for discussion and recommendations for possible ordinance adoption.
The noise issue from rental properties doesn’t appear to be diminishing and the number of rental properties on Anna Maria Island appears to be on the increase.
According to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office, the number of homestead exemption applications in Anna Maria has declined by 66 percent since 2006. That’s an indication that houses are being converted to vacation rental properties, said Dale Freidley of the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office.
A reported decline in Island city populations and a drop in the number of registered voters would support Freidley’s suggestion that Islanders in recent years have been converting their homes to vacation rentals.
The P&Z work session on noise is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.