Sight, sound to get another look by city
The issues of lighting and noise will get yet another look by the Port Aransas City Council today, Thursday, June 18.
The council will consider a third reading of an ordinance that would prohibit glares from outdoor lighting in parts of town not already affected by an existing ordinance. The council also will hear a proposal by Councilman Charles Bujan, who is suggesting creation of an ordinance that would require live music venues to install materials that would absorb sound, if they haven’t already.
The meeting will be at 5 p.m. at council chambers at city hall, 710 W. Ave. A.
The council voted 5-1 May 21 to table an ordinance aimed at reducing glare from outdoor lighting in town. The ordinance was up for a third and final reading that would have made it law, but the measure stalled after Councilman Mike Hall raised concerns that the ordinance could cost small business owners too much money. He specifically came to the defense of Snappy’s, a new convenience store and gas station whose representatives have appeared before the council to express concern about the proposed ordinance.
Mayor Claude Brown argued against the ordinance because it exempted town facilities from complying with the ordinance.
After the May 21 meeting, city staff put together alternative language that the council could insert in the proposed ordinance. According to city staff, the language states that:
• Traffic control lights and low-intensity gas station lighting fixtures could be exempt;
• Existing street lights could be exempt, but it would be city policy that street lights would get low-glare “cutoff refractor” lighting equipment when replacement time comes;
• Public facilities including parks, sports fields and the airport would be exempt, but all other city facilities would have to abide by the measure. Those include city hall, Ellis Memorial Library, the police station, public works plant, fire station, transfer station, Dennis Dreyer Municipal Marina, fishing piers, the Community Center and Port Aransas Museum.
As for the noise issue, the council was scheduled on May 21 to consider a second reading of a revised noise ordinance that would have imposed new restrictions to keep music from bothering residents living near nightclubs. But council members declined to hold a vote after some night club owners and their supporters showed up to protest the proposed restrictions.
The current ordinance says music should not be louder than 85 decibels from midnight to 7 a.m. in areas zoned for business – generally along Alister Street, Cotter Avenue, Cut-off Road and the flats, said David Parsons, the city’s planning and projects manager. The ordinance also says decibel levels can’t be higher than 85 from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. throughout the rest of town.
Proposed revisions in the ordinance, which passed unanimously on first reading April 16, said decibel levels should not climb higher than 85 from 8 a.m. to midnight; that levels not exceed 65 from midnight to 2 a.m.; and that police may use discretion on what is too loud from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. The rules would be the same for all parts of town.
The revised ordinance also would have moved the location where police take decibel readings.
Right now, police stand 100 feet from offending property. The revised ordinance would have required officers to take the reading while standing on the property of the complaining party, at the closest point to the property from which the music is coming.
The revised noise ordinance appeared to be dead after the council couldn’t muster a vote on it on May 21. Since then, however, Bujan has come forward with his proposal to require clubs to install sound-absorbing materials.
Under Bujan’s plan, a new club owner could not obtain a certificate of occupancy unless the city inspects the owner’s property and makes sure it is has sound-absorbing materials.
A certificate of occupancy is provided when the city building inspector gives the OK that a recently built structure meets all city codes and is safe to occupy.
Bujan said he also wants the ordinance to require existing club owners to have sound-absorbing materials. Most of them probably already have it, he said, adding that it’s not very expensive.