By Joe Capozzi

Council members are considering changes to the town code that would turn up the volume on allowable noise levels in South Palm Beach. 
But peace-and-quiet advocates needn’t worry: The Town Council doesn’t intend to allow much more of a racket than most residents are already used to hearing. 
The aim of the proposed changes is to help accommodate condominium generators that kick on during power outages. 
Many of those generators, as well as other machinery such as air-conditioning units and the town’s generator and pump station, give off noise emissions that exceed 60 decibels, the current maximum allowed in the town code — with the exception of motor vehicles and lawn mowers.
“As a reference point, I am talking at 62 DBA,’’ Town Manager Robert Kellogg, speaking through a microphone at Town Hall, told the council on Dec. 14. “So anybody giving a presentation is exceeding the town’s decibel levels.’’ 
The town decided to look at revising the noise levels after the Concordia condominiums requested permission to install a new generator in the parking lot. That generator will emit 70 decibels when running at full power. 
“I’m certain other generators in town at other condos exceed that 60 DBA” limit, Kellogg said. “Short of requiring additional muffling, buffering or screening on these generators, I don’t know what the other solution would be.’’
He said a review of surrounding communities showed that “most have similar or lower DBAs than we do.’’ 
Kellogg will offer the commission a proposal of changes in January. Options may include allowing exemptions for certain uses at certain hours. 
The proposed changes are being reviewed as the town is trying to address a complaint by a Concordia resident about noise from the air-conditioning units at a condo next door to the north, The Barclay.
A special magistrate Dec. 22 ruled The Barclay was violating the town’s noise ordinance and gave the condo until Jan. 25 to come into compliance. “This is a tricky situation because I can just see Pandora’s box being opened up because a complaint has been filed against The Barclay by a Concordia resident. Concordia wants a new generator. I don’t think there’s a good solution to this problem, to be honest with you,’’ Kellogg said. 
Changes to the town code might be the most viable solution. 
“Technology has changed and generators are much quieter than they used to be, but they still would exceed the town’s limit,’’ Town Attorney Glen Torcivia said. “How can we approve a generator that we know is going to violate our code? ‘Yes, you can do this, but we’re going to ding you with a code citation?’’’
Bill Ellis, president of the board of directors for the Concordia, said the new outside generator, which will replace a 40-year-old generator that “completely died,’’ will cost the condo about $150,000 less than a generator that sits indoors. 
The outdoor generator will run on natural gas, allowing the condo to “get rid of diesel fuel” that has been stored on site. 
In other business, the council heard a 30-minute water quality presentation from Darrel J. Graziani, the assistant director for the West Palm Beach Public Utilities Department.
West Palm Beach supplies water to the town, and Graziani said the water is safe. 
In June, Mayor Bonnie Fischer said the city needed to do a better job of notifying the town’s water customers when problems arise. It took West Palm Beach officials about eight days in May to announce that the city’s water had an unacceptably high level of the blue-green algae contaminant cylindrospermopsin and posed a risk to physically vulnerable customers.
Speaking to Graziani on Dec. 14, Fischer said: “I don’t drink the water anyway, I have to be honest with you. … West Palm Beach water has not touched my lips for 45 years. Not that I say drinking out of plastic is any better.’’

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