BROOKSVILLE - In a 3-1 vote on Monday night, Brooksville City Council passed a noise ordinance aimed at controlling unnecessary noise from car stereos.
The rule prohibits motorists from playing a radio, music or other noise loud enough to be "plainly audible" from 25 feet away and "louder than necessary."
In the words of council member Joe Bernardini, the intent of the ordinance is to curb the "window shaking, vibrating thing" that happens "when cars go within a mile of your house."
And while the rule might not eradicate the annoyance altogether, offenders could face a hefty fine if caught in the act.
The first violation will cost $250, the second $500 and the third $750. If the first citation goes unpaid, the offender's vehicle can be impounded, costing an additional $200 for first offenders, plus towing and storage costs.
"We've never had a $750 fine," Brooksville Police Chief George Turner said during the meeting.
Council member Joe Johnston III, who voted against the ordinance, said he agreed with the intent but thought 25 feet was far too close.
"After the council meeting last week I got to the light over here at Fort Dade (Avenue) and Marvin Gaye came on and I turned it up," Johnston said. "If my window had been down it would have been audible within 25 feet and I'd probably have gotten a ticket."
On Tuesday, Turner told Hernando Today the police department stopped enforcing the noise ordinance back in 2012 pending a constitutional challenge of a similar "plainly audible" ordinance out of Pinellas County being heard by the Florida Supreme Court.
The court ruled part of the law as not unconstitutionally vague, Turner said, and struck down the challenge. Turner said the revised city ordinance "mirrors exactly what the court said it wanted."
Although the noise ordinance went into effect immediately, council members asked for a five-day grace period for residents. Turner said those who violate the ordinance will receive a warning, and officers will start issuing tickets Saturday.
Turner said the vehicle noise around the city has gotten worse since the department stopped ticketing.
"In some areas of the city on Saturday and Sunday cars are parked on every other corner, with the extremely loud boom box, heavy bass, and those are the areas we'll be enforcing," Turner said.
According to Turner, the police department gets numerous noise complaint calls a day, and his department will be "actively enforcing" it.
"It's a quality of life issue for our residents," Turner said.
v vAlso Monday:
Clifford Taylor was introduced as a new attorney at The Hogan Law Firm, which represents the city. Taylor, former chief legal counsel at the Florida Department of Management Services in Tallahassee, has 15 years of experience representing city councils in smaller cities.
The City Council heard an update on the Brownfields Program, which is working to identify and assess area properties that might be contaminated with pollution or hazardous wastes, such as old junkyards, dry cleaners or gas stations. Brooksville has been awarded a $400,000 grant by the Environmental Protection Agency to assess potentially contaminated properties. The grant does not pay for property cleanup. Project Manager Brian Kvam said community meetings have been well attended and site inventory is on-going.
The next Brownfields Community Task Force meeting will be held Nov. 14 at 5:30 at Brooksville City Hall.