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Holmes Beach commission discusses noise, mosquitoes

By Carol Brenneman and Rick Catlin, Islander Reporters

Holmes Beach commissioners at their July 11 work session addressed a number of issues, including the proposed noise ordinance based on decibel levels that would boost the fine for a noise violation from $75 to $150.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino agreed to no commercial lawn care and construction on Sundays, but city attorney Patricia Petruff cautioned commissioners to “really think it through” before halting lawn care on Sunday, or limiting homeoner lawn mowing that day to noon-5 p.m.

Police Chief Bill Tokajer said a 5 p.m. quitting time for lawn work on weekends might be appropriate.

Commissioner Judy Titsworth was concerned about the noise from backup power generators, which she said she measured once at more than 80 decibels.

Tojaker suggested the city building code be revised to require generators to have a noise buffer.

Zaccagnino also was concerned about noise carrying across canals in the city, but Tojaker said the department hasn’t had a complaint about excess noise in weeks.

Tokajer presented examples of decibel limits in a number of other cities and offered a proposed schedule of limits for residential and commercial areas of Holmes Beach, including:

• Residential noise, 65 decibels 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 55 decibels 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

• Public space and commercial noise: 75 decibels 24 hours a day.

• Outdoor dining noise: 75 decibels.

• After 10 p.m., no discernible noise.

Tokajer also proposed raising fines, including what he called “more teeth,” from $75 to $150 for the first offense if unchallenged. If challenged, the proposed penalty would be $300. Civil penalties for the second offense would be raised from $175 to $250 if unchallenged and, if challenged, the penalty would increase to $500.

He also recommended measuring decibel levels from the property line of the complainant.

The chief and commission received a compliment from Nicole Heslop, owner of the Island Flea Barefoot Tiki Bar and Cafe, 5704 Gulf Drive, located across from city hall.

The bar offers live music on most nights and Heslop said she and the chief worked to develop an acceptable decibel limit to ensure the music did not disturb neighbors and was kept within the proposed standards.

“We are part of the community and want to keep it that way,” Heslop said. Rather than issuing citations, Tojaker met with Heslop several times to solve the issue.

“A community works well when it works together,” Heslop said.

In other business, commissioners agreed to write a letter of support on behalf of R.J. Kortweg and Denise Schultz for a beach volleyball camp for children. Schultz said she would use the letter to solicit sponsors for the camp, but fees to use the courts at the Manatee Public Beach were prohibitive.

Petruff noted the new Riverwalk park in downtown Bradenton includes two sand courts for volleyball, and said it would be possible to build a beach volleyball court at the field adjacent to city hall if the commission wanted.

Titsworth was excited by the idea and hopes to gain permission from her family to use recreationally zoned land it owns at 75th Street on the beach for the camp if beach volleyball interest grows.

Commission Chair Jean Peelen reported she and Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn attended the recent ManaSota League of Cities meeting and the league has made it a priority to get Florida House of Representatives Bill 883 rescinded.

Part of the bill allows any homeowner in Florida to rent his or her residence for any length of time, and only rental regulations already on the books in municipalities affect such rentals.

In other business, commissioners learned from Chris Lesser of the Manatee County Mosquito Control District that Malathion, an organophosphate insecticide, is sprayed for eradication. Extensive tests have shown the chemical to be safe for humans, he said.

While commissioners wanted to give residents more advance notice of spraying, Lesser said he could only notify the city by 3 p.m. of an aerial spraying that evening.

“It’s an hour-by-hour exact science taking into account rainfall amounts, reports from entomologists based on mosquito traps that have been set and other data,” Lesser said.

He also said “West Nile was extremely active in Florida last year, but Manatee County’s extensive mosquito control effort kept it at bay.”

Mayor Carmel Monti said he’d like to see more revenue stream from tourists since residents “take the brunt” of everything through taxes.

He suggested that to relieve traffic congestion, the county beach parking area should be used by visitors to park their cars. Monti also described automatic tollgates at the beach parking lot where visitors could pay at the end of the day.

Commissioners were receptive to a suggestion from Tokajer that parking fines be increased from $20 to $50, with a late fee of $15.

The next commission meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. July 23.

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