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B&B ordinance creates cacophony of complaints

By ANDREW MEACHAM
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- A committee created to study bed-and-breakfast inns has proposed modifications to the existing ordinance, which outlaws parties and receptions in residential zoning districts.

The proposal, which promises to remain controversial, would allow for indoor and outdoor events or "special functions," including parties, showers, weddings, and receptions. It also defines B&Bs as "lodging," and permits them wherever hotels and motels are allowed.

The committee, which consists of six neighborhood leaders and six B&B owners, voted to shut down outdoor parties at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursdays, and at 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Prior to special functions, B&B hosts would have to submit parking plans to the city, anticipating the number of vehicles coming into the area and how they will be accommodated. The city would review those plans and share information with neighborhood associations. Once approved by the city, a parking plan could be used again without reapplying.

The very structure of the meeting, held Wednesday at the Sunshine Center, reflected ongoing tensions with some Old Southeast neighbors. Susan Ajoc, the city's Neighborhood Partnership director, said contention at two meetings last fall had proved so disruptive that some B&B owners were on the verge of walking out.

So the city, which created and, with the Council of Neighborhood Associations, is overseeing the committee, opted for a restricted meeting format. The public could attend, but only the chosen representatives could speak.

"There was more hollering and screaming going on than getting anything accomplished," CONA vice president Skip Brooks said of the earlier meetings.

Neighbors of Bayboro House, 1719 Beach Drive SE, which Dave and Sandy Kelly bought for $800,000 in 1999, have complained about loud music, alcohol consumption, noisy guests, and tents that remain up all weekend for outdoor events.

"I love music. I played professionally," said Donna Marie Kostreva, who attended the meeting. "But I live in a quiet neighborhood and I want to keep it that way."

Shutting down the parties at 10 p.m. on week nights or 11 p.m. on weekends does little to satisfy the neighbors' noise complaints, said Diane Bailey, an attorney the splinter group has hired.

"The way the ordinance is proposed, they can have loud, disco-pounding music seven nights a week," Bailey said.

Old Southeast president Karl Nurse, who sits on the committee, said he considers B&Bs an asset to the community, but they need regulating.

Several B&B owners noted that they had never been cited by the city for exceeding the 70-decibel noise limit. Ed Caldwell, who owns Dickens House, 335 Eighth Ave. NE, said he thinks noise allegations against B&Bs are exaggerated, and asked why no one complains about fireworks at city-sponsored activities downtown.

The proposal must clear the Planning Commission and the City Council before becoming law.

Meetings

BIG BAYOU: 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Trinity United Methodist Church, 2401 Fifth St. S.

EUCLID-ST. PAUL: 7:30 p.m. Thursday (7 p.m. refreshments). St. Paul's Catholic Church school cafeteria. Mayor Rick Baker.

HISTORIC KENWOOD: 7:30 p.m. Albright United Methodist Church, 2750 Fifth Ave. N. Police on Neighborhood Watch programs.

NORTH DOWNTOWN: 7 p.m. Thursday. The Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. N. Code enforcement officer Gary Crosby.

SNELL ISLE: 7 p.m. Thursday. St. Petersburg Woman's Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd.

WILDWOOD RECREATION CENTER: 10 a.m. Saturday. Wildwood Recreation Center, 2650 10th Ave. S.

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