River Cities Gazette

Loud objections to noise proposal at Miami Springs council meeting

STRONG OPINION: Miami Springs resident Donna Hernandez has spearheaded the drive to stop the proposed new sound ordinance and delivered a strong message at Monday's council meeting.
STRONG OPINION: Miami Springs resident Donna Hernandez has spearheaded the drive to stop the proposed new sound ordinance and delivered a strong message at Monday's council meeting.
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River Cities Gazette

The noise against a noise ordinance that was up for second reading at Monday’s Miami Springs council meeting started earlier in the day. Flyers were passed out at the Circle in opposition of the ordinance and residents were encouraged to come to the meeting and make some noise.

Many residents showed up to be heard as the ringleaders of the movement, Donna Hernandez and George Valdez, got their wish. The noise on noise went on for close to two hours of the four-hour meeting; in the end, the noise they made was loud enough for the council to unanimously reject the ordinance.

The noise ordinance was just one of many that were up for a second vote on Monday night.  City Attorney Jan Seiden, who, ironically or not, did not attend the meeting, had written the wording and legalese for all of ordinances.

There was confusion and misconceptions about the noise ordinance and Hernandez, for the second straight meeting, did not feel the residents had been informed properly about the changes that were being made. She explained how difficult it is for residents to compare the old ordinance to the new one and wanted more transparency on the subject.

Many who spoke at the meeting thought the time when music and sound devices had to be turned down was simply being moved from 10 p.m. to midnight. In actuality, the current ordinance sets no time restrictions and residents can complain 24/7 about loud noise; the new ordinance would prohibit excessive noise from sound devices between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m., seven days a week.

Valdez, who was behind the flyers being passed out, owns the apartments across the street from Woodys West End Tavern and he did not see any reason to change the current law. He did say his renters call regularly to complain about Woodys playing music after midnight and felt something should be done about encouraging “outside” music.

There were many others who spoke in Open Forum about the need to re-think the noise ordinance.

“The law protects our quality of life as it stands now so we can have peaceful enjoyment in our homes,” said Bill Tallman. “There is no evidence that this change needs to be made.”

“Instead of an ordinance, an open dialogue to find a balance between the residents’ interests and us music lovers is the way to go,” said Charlie Hernandez.

Several residents, including Martin Crossland and Thomas Huey, brought up the idea of using new technology and a decibel level instead of a time when someone can complain about loud noise. 

Ray Martinez spoke last and asked pertinent questions that went to the heart of the issue: “Who benefits from this change? Who brought this change about? Why change something that has served us so well for so many years?”

The council, and especially Mayor Zavier Garcia, had heard enough after 15 residents in opposition of the ordinance took the time to come to the meeting and be willing to speak.

“This code as it stands is antiquated and needs to be amended to make it reasonable,” said Garcia. “However, as it is drafted now is not how we want it. This is not over but we need to throw it out and start over.”

The vote was 5-0 to reject the noise ordinance on second reading. Councilman Jaime Petralanda, who had been the lone vote against the ordinance at the last meeting, had the final say.

“I hope this doesn’t come up again anytime soon, we should just leave it alone,” said Petralanda. “There is no one that wants this, so why are we going to again try and change it?”

Of the six other ordinances up for second reading, four were passed into law and two were deferred to the next meeting. The ones that passed: 1) Regulate real estate sign placement. 2) Establish a new permitted sound period for construction and lawn service devices. 3) Permit decorative gates on side and rear fences. 4) Provide safety regulations for placement of trash and recycling materials by multi-family and commercial sites

In other news, the council:

• Approved unanimously the Vacant Land Contract for the sale of a sliver of the property at the old James Medical Center location for $115,000. This contract will go into effect only if there is voter approval to sell the land at a Special Election to be held Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

• Approved unanimously a five-year agreement with DERM for a capital expenditure plan totaling $581,000 for necessary changes at the Miami Springs Golf Course.

• Approved unanimously a $1.66 million project and payback with ConEdision, paid for by energy savings over the next 13 years. 


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