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St. Pete City Council ups fines for repeat noise ordinance violators

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council approved changes to its noise ordinance that make it more expensive for repeat offenders.

The ordinance increases fines for businesses that have violated the city’s noise ordinance more than once. A third offense would result in a $500 fine for businesses under the new ordinance.

There has been some controversy surrounding St. Pete’s efforts to keep nightlife noise from interrupting residents in downtown. As the city grows, more and more establishments are opening into the early morning hours. Residents have complained that the noise, like music playing from bars, pours into their homes.

However, City Council chair Charlie Gerdes pointed out this change has nothing to do with those conversations, rather just increases fines for repeat offenders.

There has also been concern expressed that a third noise ordinance violation would shut a business down. Council vice chair Amy Foster dispelled that rumor.

“It would not shut anyone down,” Foster said. “Three violations would put them into a mediation plan.”

Other concerns regarding late-night noise downtown is being addressed through a committee convened to look at ways to mitigate noise coming from bars. Some ideas include using directional projection and containing outdoor projected sound within areas that have walls, keeping the sound restricted to an area.

Police already had the option to increase fines for businesses found to repeatedly violate the city’s noise ordinance, but, as City Council member Karl Nurse pointed out, the process was too bureaucratic and police rarely used that tool.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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