There are many sides, but no winners in the battle over residential noise on Anna Maria Island. On one side are full-time residents who want to maintain the peace and quiet of their once completely residential neighborhoods. On a second side are the visitors who pay a premium to enjoy our beautiful island and want to have a good time while they’re here. A third side features the island’s three law enforcement agencies who are tasked with keeping the peace. No matter which side you’re on, there’s no solution that gives everyone everything they want.
As a full- or part-time resident, you might have an expectation of being able to spend an afternoon in solitude on your balcony. You have every right to that. But the people vacationing next door also have every right to enjoy the pool at their rental house. And because of overbuilding and small lots, that pool may only be 10 or 15 feet from your balcony, making silence impossible.
Even if winning the battle isn’t possible, maybe a cease-fire is.
We must admit that the Anna Maria Island of the past is gone and it’s not coming back. A balance needs to be found so that we can all move forward in our blended community. Maybe the way forward is through respect and mutual understanding.
Visitors need to respect that they are in a residential neighborhood where people live. If you wouldn’t do it at your home, please don’t do it at ours.
Residents need to be reasonable. If someone’s having a loud party during quiet, late-night hours, call your local law enforcement agency and allow them to do what they need to do to get the situation resolved. If a couple of kids are laughing and playing in the pool at noon, accept that there are children in the neighborhood and sometimes kids make noise.
Being on vacation doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply to you and being a resident doesn’t give you more rights than the visitor next door. Without tearing down every other house on the island, there’s almost no way to guarantee that you won’t hear some noise from your neighbors.
It’s also important that officers take community member concerns seriously. Public education programs are in place to help visitors understand the rules in each city. Maybe more outreach is needed for island residents to better understand what is considered a noise issue and how to handle issues in their neighborhoods.
People on every side are essential to preserving our way of life. We have to find a way to live together in harmony so that we can all enjoy our little piece of paradise.