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WPB City Commission Rejects Blanket Approach To Address Noisy Business

April 15, 2013

(West Palm Beach, FL) – The West Palm Beach City Commission voted tonight to reject the idea of freezing all construction activity on industrial properties across the city as a way to address noise complaints surrounding one single industrial business.

The vote was a 2-2 tie among Commissioners. West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio voted to break the tie.

The vote followed recent complaints surrounding a business on the city’s north end.  The business operates a large plane prop engine as part of its testing of new construction.  The plane engine propels water at high speeds into structures to test how resistant various construction methods and materials are to strong winds and driving rain.

Neighbors who live near the business have complained about the noise generated when the engine is running. The tests are done once every few weeks and last for a short period of time during the day.

The work being done by the business is allowed by city code as long as the noise remains below a certain level.

Within the last few weeks, city code enforcement officers tested the level of noise generated by the engine, and determined it was louder than code allows.  Since then, the business has shut down its testing, and has been meeting with city officials in an effort to find a way to reduce the level of noise generated by the plane engine. The City has told the business that if they operate the engine without taking steps to reduce the noise, they will be cited for violating the city’s noise ordinance.

Members of the affected neighborhood told the Commission that the noise generated by the business is unbearable and needs to be stopped.

Some members of the community had asked the City Commission to approve what is called a “Zoning in Progress.”  This would freeze any and all activity that requires a city permit not just on this one property but on all industrial properties across the city.

City building officials estimate a Zoning in Progress would affect hundreds of businesses citywide.

Members of the business community who spoke to the Commission called this approach a “toxic, knee-jerk reaction” which is essentially “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” They urged the Commission to reject a Zoning in Progress solution, and instead allow the one business to continue to work with the city towards a solution.

Among those urging the Commission to reject the Zoning in Progress was one property owner who lives right next to the business. He asked the Commission to allow the business time to solve the problem, but to reject imposing a blanket moratorium that would affect all industrial properties across the city.