ISLAMORADA -- An almost apologetic Village Council gave preliminary passage last week to an ordinance that would strengthen Islamorada's noise law.
"We're going to have problems with this," said Vice Mayor Ted Blackburn, who joined in the unanimous vote. "I've been there. I know this."
Under the refined ordinance, which must still go before the council for a final vote, decibel levels would be capped at 80 -- approximately the volume of a home garbage disposal -- during the day.
From 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekends, the limit would be 60 decibels, or about as loud as a typical conversation in a restaurant or at the office.
Decibel levels would be measured from the property of the person complaining about the noise, not from its source, under the new rule.
The specific decibel limits would replace the more vague language of the village's existing noise ordinance, which measures a noise disturbance "by ordinary, auditory senses of a reasonable person with ordinary sensibilities."
Local law enforcement has found that standard difficult to enforce.
The move toward toughening the noise ordinance has come primarily in response to complaints from Venetian Shores resident Cheryl Culberson about loud, late-night outdoor bands at the nearby Smuggler's Cove bar.
At last week's meeting, several speakers stepped to the microphone to speak both for and against strengthening the law. Opponents said it would hurt the village's tourist economy. Proponents said the change is needed to protect residents' quality of life.
Though most of the council members expressed ambivalence about changing the noise ordinance, they decided to forge ahead.
Also last week, the council:
• Gave final passage to a revised purchasing ordinance, which requires the village to document its reasons before awarding no-bid contracts or contract extensions.
The move was made in response to a suggestion from the Florida Auditor General's Office last March. However, it won't make it more difficult for the village to award no-bid contracts, village attorney Nina Boniske said last month.
• Provided final approval of an ordinance that will allow boat slips to be credited as parking spaces for development purpose, provided the slips are designated for short-term dockage.