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Longboat noise rules remain the same

Town commissioners opted to not move forward with new proposed exemptions.

One noise exemption town staffers had hoped to add was the sound of water cascading into water, such as the sound of a fountain in operation.
One noise exemption town staffers had hoped to add was the sound of water cascading into water, such as the sound of a fountain in operation.
Photo by Eric Garwood
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Longboat Key Town Commissioners chose to leave rules on noise alone this week after learning there really weren't many repeat offenders that would prompt a new look at existing regulations. 

The town’s noise regulations were updated just over a year ago, Jan. 10, 2022, but town staff had identified four new exemptions they were hoping to add to the list already present in the code. 

Changes included clarification of definitions and the separation of performance stages on town-owned properties from recreational facility exemptions, giving it its own exemption. 

Other exemptions would have included:

  • Mechanical equipment including heat pumps, air conditioners and swimming pool pumps that are operating in accordance within manufacturer specifications 
  • Generators used during or as a result of an emergency 
  • The splashing sound of water striking water that is generated from a fountain (but not machinery used to propel that water).

As it stands, the current allowable decibel level in residential areas on the barrier island during the daytime is 60 decibels. During the nighttime,  55 decibels is allowable. Normal conversation is typically registered at 60, and in comparison a loud motorcycle is typically measured at 95 decibels.

After the staff presentation, Vice Mayor Maureen Merrigan asked Director of Planning, Zoning and Building Allen Parsons that if everyday things such as a fountain and air conditioning were exceeding the town’s decibel limits, would raising the limit be beneficial. 

It was also brought to the commission’s attention that the fountain exemption and the inclusion of the definition of a public space were following one-off incidents where one person expressed confusion on the town’s definition of public space and a complaint of a neighboring fountain. 

Such knowledge made commissioners fearful that moving forward with rule changes would open the door for the exemption list to be ever-growing. 

Commissioners said they would leave rules as they stand but would look again at potential changes in 2024.



Lauren Tronstad

Lauren Tronstad is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2021. Before moving to Florida, she worked for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

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