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Longboat Key Friday, Jul. 2, 2021 5 months ago

Longboat Key passes emergency ordinance to quiet loud boat music

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Commissioners felt the need to make changes ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The Longboat Key Town Commission passed an emergency ordinance Friday aimed at curtailing loud music from boats moored around Jewfish Key and north-end beaches.

The morning push to get the measure passed came before the Fourth of July holiday weekend and before the Town Commission takes its annual summer recess.

“This is one of the biggest traditional boating weekends of the year,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said.

Friday’s 6-0 vote amends two parts of the Town Code:

  • It repeals restrictions that prevent the town's special magistrate from  reviewing and enforcing the town’s sound regulations.
  • It amends the sound regulations’ “violations, remedies” provisions to allow the town’s code enforcement officer or police to enforce provisions through civil fines and administrative proceedings.

The changes take effect immediately.

Normally, an ordinance requires a first reading and a second reading on another date. However, commissioners felt the need to address north-end residents’ recent complaints about the loud music coming from boats.

An emergency ordinance requires two-thirds support or five commissioners’ votes for approval. A regular ordinance requires a simple majority. Vice Mayor Mike Haycock did not attend Friday’s meeting.

Harmer said the town’s two police boats would be out on the water this weekend along with help from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

 At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop asked whether the FWC and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office would help with enforcement of the town’s emergency ordinance.

“FWC will likely not enforce our ordinance based upon communications with their attorney,” Town Attorney Maggie Mooney said.

Mooney said town leaders have tried reaching out to Manatee County’s Attorney’s Office, but haven’t heard back. She said an interlocal agreement might be necessary.

“I have seen a model of something similar in different jurisdictions in the state when we reached out to other communities,” Mooney said. “So, there will be further dialogue on that point.”

Mayor Ken Schneier mentioned several other possibilities that town leaders are examining to address the north-end problems. It includes the possibilities of adding signs along the shore, consideration of dredging away sandbars that attract crowds near Jewfish Key and enforcing boat speed in the area.

“This is an ongoing project to try to do more to resolve the issue that we know is prevalent at the north end, especially during the summer and on weekends,” Schneier said.

The Town Commission is scheduled to meet next on Sept. 13. 

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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