Sebastian City Council to mark up noise ordinance

SEBASTIAN — In an effort to appease city residents and those outside the city troubled by noisy concerts, house parties, car radios and even lawnmowers, the Sebastian City Council packed some homework with them from Wednesday’s meeting — a first-draft of a noise ordinance composed by City Attorney Robert Ginsburg.

“I’ve prepared a proposal and will put it on your agenda for a First Reading at your next meeting,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg, who hails from Miami-Dade County and is accustomed to strict scrutiny of even the most mundane of local legislation, told the Council at the July 29 meeting that he wanted to take the time to dig into the noise ordinances of other municipalities around the state of Florida to find out what works and what is practically enforceable.

Based upon this research, he drafted the proposed ordinance. After consultation with Police Chief Michelle Morris, who thought it would be an enforceable, useful tool for her officers, Ginsburg presented the four-page document to the Council.

He asked for the draft to be marked up for discussion at the next regular City Council Meeting on Aug. 26 and a Second Reading at the discretion of the Council.

“I just want to make sure that when it’s adopted, you have a product that you’re happy with,” Ginsburg said.

Councilwoman Dale Simchick found one thing she wanted changed, the provision that City residents cannot mow their lawns or operate noisy power tools between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. as to avoid disturbing the peace of folks who turn in early. Simchick pointed out that during the summer, daylight extends past 8 p.m. and many residents who are working more hours or second jobs might need that time to keep up with lawn maintenance.

If approved, the ordinance would make it “unlawful for any person to make, continue or cause to be made or continued any unreasonably loud, excessive, unnecessary or unusual noise” and the threshold would be five decibels above the ambient noise, as measured by your neighbor’s property line.

Animals causing “frequent, habitual or continued noise” would be covered and so would radios, televisions, musical instruments and amplifiers during the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The first offense would be a warning and if the noisemaker does not correct the problem in five minutes or commits the same noise offence twice in 60 days, the law enforcement officer may issue a $50 find for the first citation, a $250 fine for the second citation and a $500 fine for a third and subsequent citations.

Noises caused by official government business such as emergency vehicles or night road crews would be exempt and residents requiring emergency work on their property would be exempt.

All the council members will get a chance to bring their concerns to Ginsburg over the next two weeks before the ordinance is aired. Anyone wishing to get a copy of the proposed ordinance should call the City Clerk’s office at (772) 589-5330, as the draft was not included in the backup to the Aug. 12 City Council agenda.

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