Efforts to reduce noise problems that emanate from swimming pools at vacation rentals and affect residents in Bradenton Beach have led to some code changes.
At a Jan. 23 special meeting, commissioners and the mayor held the final hearing and vote on an ordinance amending the land development code to regulate swimming pool and hot tub accessories and buffers.
In a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Jake Spooner voting “nay,” the commission approved changes to the LDC prohibiting new pool slides and restoring setbacks around swimming pools and hot tubs from 3 feet to 10 feet in the residential R1 and R2 districts.
According to planner Alan Garrett, work on the ordinance was initiated by concerns that pool slides or similar “accoutrements” are a source of noise in residential districts. However, the first reading of the ordinance was expanded to include buffers and setbacks.
The change prohibits the construction of new poolside features. Pool features already in place could be maintained until they are deemed unsafe, at which point permitting for repair or replacement would be prohibited.
The first reading of the ordinance proposed a 3-foot-wide landscape buffer for pools. However, commissioners and the mayor agreed Jan. 23 that a landscaping buffer — either inside or outside the required fencing, could be a hassle to maintain and enforce and would not provide sufficient sound buffering.
“I don’t think we should require landscaping, especially on the inside of a pool fence area,” Mayor John Chappie said Jan. 23. “It would be a nightmare to keep clean.”
The first reading Jan. 4 included discussion of whether pools should be considered pervious when calculating lot coverage.
Currently, outdoor pools are not considered in calculating lot coverage.
The commission agreed to include its decision on pools as pervious or impervious as part of a set of LDC amendments set for a final hearing at the Feb. 1 commission meeting.
With the 2016 amendments to the LDC, setbacks for pools in the residential R1 and R2 districts were changed from 10 feet to 3 feet. However, the 10-foot setbacks were retained in the residential R3 district.
Pools already in place would be grandfathered under the previous code.
“I have concern about a 3-foot setback for a pool,” Chappie said. “I think it’s too tight.”
Commissioner Ralph Cole asked, “Why in the R1 and R2, but not in the R3?” and said he thinks the 10-foot setback should be consistent throughout the residential zones.
Commissioner Randy White agreed and added that the distance would help buffer the noise.
Commissioner Jake Spooner disagreed with Chappie, Cole and White, saying the difference between 3 feet and 10 feet will not help buffer the noise from pool areas.
“If you already have a solid fence, that’s the buffer,” Spooner said.
“If you’re telling me that a kid screaming ‘Marco Polo’ at 10 feet away versus 3 feet away makes any difference at all …” Spooner added.
Chappie said, “It’s the little things that we do that help to minimize the total impact of the transient public lodging establishments that have inundated our R1 and R2 areas, not just here, but throughout the state.”
The board agreed Jan. 23, with Spooner opposed, to return the setbacks back to 10 feet surrounding pools in the R1 and R2 districts.
The next commission meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.