It was a full house when the commission meeting started at 7 p.m. The mood was set before the discussion began.
The typed letter described a city with a plainly audible noise ordinance and several entertainment venues. It ends with a call for a quiet city.
Red and green highlight portions of the typed letter. The last paragraph reads:
“Newberry does not have all of this but what we can offer is a nice quiet town for the people to visit and if that is not enough then go to G-ville”
Discussions about the city’s noise ordinance began earlier this year. The current ordinance in Chapter 34 of Newberry’s Code of Ordinances contains a “plainly audible” definition in some applications that is difficult to uphold when it comes to prosecution. Currently, there is only one person on city staff who is trained to officially measure noise levels.
In previous commission meetings, some residents have likened the noise in their area to gunshots or a war zone. Others said the music from local restaurants disrupted their day.
Commissioners, city staff and residents discussed three aspects of the noise ordinance Monday night. A contract with Power Acoustics, Inc., a contract with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Department and a rough draft of the noise ordinance were topics of conversation at the meeting.
The city commission deliberated entering into a contract with Power Acoustics, Inc., an Orlando based noise control consulting company. The commission ultimately passed a motion with a vote of 4-1 to spend $1,560 for review and advise from Power Acoustics, Inc.
Residents John Whitman and Gary Palmer advocated a closer examination of county ordinances before spending money on entering into the proposed contract.
City Attorney Scott Walker said that they were aware of the county ordinance, as well as Gainesville’s noise ordinance.
Several residents proposed that the city wait to spend the money until a pending Florida Supreme Court Case was decided. The case is expected to determine whether the language of “plainly audible” would be upheld in a court.
Commissioner Jordan Marlowe responded by saying that court cases seem to be leaning toward a more objective definition of noise. He noted that the City of Minneapolis, which has a “plainly audible” noise ordinance, has not won any cases in court.
The commission decided to postpone voting on whether or not to train additional city staff.
The second aspect of the noise ordinance involved entering into a contract with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. The contract requires paying a compensation rate to the sheriff’s office to continue seeing through the enforcement of the ordinance.
Commissioner Alena Lawson recommended enforcing those who were repeat offenders with at least three violations of the ordinance.
The motion to enter the contract with Alachua County Sheriff’s Office passed unanimously.
Finally, a draft of the noise ordinance was presented to the city commission, though the ordinance could change after the city receives expert opinion from Power Acoustics, Inc.
Tosha Fernandez presented the draft and highlighted the key changes to the ordinance. “By all analysis, plainly audible raises some problems,” she said.
A sheriff can still issue a cease and desist under the plainly audible standard, but the standard cannot be implemented for prosecution purposes.
Resident comments continued as the noise ordinance discussion spilled over the 90-minute mark. While discussion continued, eventually the discussion itself became the subject of complaint.
“I hear what you’re saying, I’m not saying you don’t have some legitimate complaints, but let’s be reasonable about our complaints,” resident Sue Andes said toward the end of the discussion.
The first reading of the noise ordinance is expected to take place on June 11, with the second reading of the noise ordinance expected to take place on June 25.Add a comment