City Commissioners Monday night unanimously agreed to set up an ad-hoc committee to look into possible changes to the city’s sound regulations downtown.
“We will continue this conversation until we can draft something that can accommodate everyone, or as close to that as possible,” said City Manager Tom Barwin.
More than 20 residents spoke at the meeting, with about half supporting less-restrictive regulations and the other half wanting more regulations on sound levels downtown.
Downtown advocate Diana Hamilton suggested formation of a team of residents and city officials who will go into various residences downtown to measure different decibel levels in order to try to determine which levels of sound are reasonable.
“Meter the sound and get a sense of what’s happening inside people’s homes,” Hamilton said. “That would give us a sense of how to regulate outside. Then in fact we can find a happy medium.”
Peter fanning, president of the Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association (DSCA), asked City Commissioners to hold workshops that the public can participate in. Until such workshops are held, a compromise between residents who want to be able to sleep at night and musicians and bar owners who are seeking a more-vibrant downtown is not likely.
Caragiulo, who placed the issue on the agenda for discussion, said he agreed with Hamilton’s suggested approach to the issue.
“Redevelopment is coming in, and we have to figure out a way to get commercial and residential to coexist,” Caragiulo said.
Commissioner Terry Turner said that downtown condo owners contribute to the city’s tax base, and if changes to sound regulations are made, the city should keep their interests in mind.
“To those who say ‘let them (condo residents) leave if they don’t like it,’ if they do leave this city is in deep trouble,’” Turner said.
Commissioner Shannon Snyder said city commissioners and planners have to find a “medium.”
In other items:
• Commissioners in a unanimous vote accepted the finding of a “Cyber Security Investigative Report” from consultant John Jorgensen of The Sylint Group. The report found no criminal wrongdoing. Mayor Atwell said the final report would allow the city to move on from “a cloud of uncertainty” that surrounded City Hall as The Sylint Group investigated a former city manager’s use of city emails and problems in the way the city’s computer system was used.
• Commissioners unanimously approved an amended Ordinance 13-5052 prohibiting unreasonable sound from a motor vehicle.
• Commissioners continued a hearing of a rezone for at 1174 and 1186 Hampton Road.
• City officials welcomed two new city managers, Mitt Tidwell, the city’s new utilities director, and Norm Gollub, the downtown economic development coordinator.
• Nik Wallenda was honored with a plaque titled “A Man and His City.” Mayor Suzanne Atwell hugged Wallenda and said she was “bustling with pride” after his highwire walk across the bayfront Jan. 29. Up next for Wallenda, he will highwire walk across the Grand Canyon in June.
• Commissioners 3-2 approved vacating a 20-foot wide alley between Lemon Avenue and Pineapple downtown to 127 Pineapple LLC. The property will be used for outdoor dining space.