On Monday the FMB town council will hold a public hearing to consider a one-year moratorium on a 2-year old ordinance requiring all new and replacement windows on the beach be installed using 85% tinted windows. The moratorium was suggested by the Marine Resources Task Force, which has flip flopped on the issue. The picture of these windows is the reason why.
There have been blatant turtle ordinance light violations in the first two weeks of the 2022 turtle season. They are coming from homes, businesses and condo buildings. There are now 68 open investigations into the town’s sea turtle lighting ordinance up and down the beach. Lights left on during turtle nesting season have the potential to disorient hatchlings sending them away from the ocean. The hatchlings need to get to the water, pulled there by the light of the moon, if they have any chance of survival.
Two years ago the town approved an ordinance requiring new and replacement windows use glass with an inside to outside light transmittance value of 15% or less. The state requirement is 45%. Residences that have 15% would then not be required to close their blinds to the light at night, according to the Marine Resources task Force committee.
Several weeks ago MRTF made a recommendation to the council that the moratorium be instituted. That came after a huge outcry from condo owners who said the glass was too dark, too costly, and too hard to find. Then MRTF committee chairman Steve Johnson went to The Pink Shell.
Johnson wasn’t lounging out by the Pink Shell pool for the weekend. He was getting a look at 15% window tint the resort plans to put on all of its beach facing windows. And, he says what he saw changed his mind on the moratorium. According to Johnson, the picture below is 15% window tint (right) and 45% window tint (left). He says on a bright sunny day, looking out both windows, there was very little difference.
Johnson: “The MRTF has decided by unanimous vote to reverse their window tint recommendation to Town Council with regards to modifications in the Sea Turtle Ordinance. After review of multiple 15% window tint installations on FMB, it is clear that the negative communications expressed to Town Council regarding visibility of 15% tint do not agree with personal experience of the product. Verbal testimonials of these property owners were all very positive. Window tinting to 15% for new construction and window replacement permits remain an excellent tool in removing the generations long conflict within our community of non compliant interior lighting reaching the beach. In addition, factual price estimates represent a -2% to +9% range for 15% and 45% windows and sliding doors. Furthermore, any specific hardships with compliance of the sea turtle ordinance is recommended to follow the variance process allowed for all municipal ordinances.”
Johnson says The Pink Shell plans to tint windows in 192 rooms at $300 per room. He says in addition to shielding the light from the beach, the resort will save money on their energy bill and the furniture will last longer, not being blasted by the sun as much.
Several council members and the Mayor also saw the Pink Shell tint. Johnson plans to speak to the council Monday to tell him about his committee’s change of heart. What impact that has on the council’s plan to put a moratorium on the 15% window replacement remains to be seen.
In all likelihood Mayor Ray Murphy will be the deciding vote on the rollback. Murphy was the swing vote with Allers and Atterholt in favor of the moratorium. He has seen the 15% Pink Shell window tint. He sees all the light violations. He is also up for re-election in November and the condo owners and residents, on the south end who do not want the 15%, are a huge voting block.
Johnson said it’s time the council get some political courage on this issue and stop kicking the can down the road.