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Flagler Beach Commission vs. Hurricane Patty’s: A Lot of Noise Over a Few Complaints

| January 28, 2011

Hurricane Patty's was quiet Thursday eveing because many patrons were at the Flagler Beach City Commission, advocating for the restaurant and bar on the Intracoastal. (© FlaglerLive)

Hurricane Patty's was quiet Thursday eveing because many patrons were at the Flagler Beach City Commission, advocating for the restaurant and bar on the Intracoastal. (© FlaglerLive)

Hurricane Patty’s opened as a bar and restaurant at the foot of the Flagler Beach bridge on the east side of the Intracoastal in mid-December. The place had been empty for about four years following the closure of Mad Dog’s. It’s been busy since. Some 80 people have been employed in one capacity or another ion that period, according to co-owner Chuck Stanford. The business employs about 45 to 50 part-time or full-time jobs, not including the work it provides bands nightly. In one month alone, Hurricane Patty’s paid out $45,000 to employees.

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Though it’s been catering to thousands of patrons, the restaurant now finds itself embroiled in a conflict with the city over noise complaints. Six noise complaints, to be precise, from four households on either Lehigh or Lambert Avenues. Police log reviews showed that the Flagler Beach Police received two noise-complaint calls the night of Jan. 14. Both times an officer responded to the restaurant, he reported either that he could not hear anything or that the music had stopped. No decibel readings were taken either time (the officer, in any case, had forgotten how to use the meter since his original training, according to a memo by Acting City Manager Bruce Campbell to commissioners).

Stanford, who owns Hurricane Patty’s with his wife Darcy—as they do another Hurricane Patty’s in St. Augustine—says there’s never been a single documented case of music noise levels exceeding the city’s regulations. Decibel levels in commercial and tourist areas may not exceed 70 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and 65 after 10 p.m. (residential area’s limits are 55 and 60). “We’ve stayed within the rules. Still, people complain,” Stanford said Thursday evening. “There were complaints before we even opened, based on previous restaurants.”

Stanford was standing outside the city commission chambers, where commissioners had just spent more than two hours discussing their noise ordinance, mostly concerning Hurricane Patty’s, and listening to a stream of people speak mostly  in favor of the restaurant and against new strictures proposed by Commissioner Ron Vath, including lowering the decibel limit by five units. The proposal drew the largest crowd at a commission meeting in months: the meeting room itself was at capacity, and two to three dozen more people gathered outside city hall’s entrance to hear the proceedings on a loudspeaker.

The city commission was uncertain how to proceed. With Vath’s exception, none of the commissioners was familiar with decibel measures. None, including Vath, could—or had the means, at the meeting—to tell the difference between a decibel level of, say, 65 as opposed to 70. And there was no documented evidence of the problem other than neighbors’ complaints. “I’m very hesitant to change the decibel thing now,” Commission Chairman John Feind said.

Happy-hour overflow at the city commission Thursday evening. (© FlaglerLive)

The commission is also facing an undercurrent of criticism for seeming “anti-business,” if not particularly anti restaurant business: commissioners have been haggling for a year over the future of the Pier Restaurant, whose current owner wants to be rid of the place. The city has been entertaining a proposal from Raymond Barshay, the Ormond Beach restaurateur, but those negotiations have been slow and painful for both sides. (The city owns the pier and leases the restaurant.)  On the other hand, as Commissioner Joy McGrew noted, businesses have rights and expectations, but so do residents, who the commission also must represent. And she made a point that may well require a wording change in the ordinance, which distinguishes between amplified and non-amplified music.

“So it’s not saying you can’t have amplified music after 10,” McGrew said. “To me, bottom line is, if you don’t exceed 65 decibel level, then I don’t care how you play your music.  I don’t care how many speakers you have plugged in. As long as you keep it to 65 and it’s not become a nuisance to the neighborhood. And even though there’s been a tremendous amount of people here representing the residents, and it doesn’t matter if we get one complaint, or 50 complaints. We still have to take into consideration that we are looking at the whole picture.”

So rather than decide to rewrite the city’s noise ordinance outright, the city commission delegated Commissioner Steve Settle to mediate a public town hall meeting (at the commission chambers) between restaurant owners and residents in order to explore the issue and possibly find a new middle ground.

Hurricane Patty’s owners had implored commissioners to let common sense and everyday compromise have a chance: we want to do the right thing, however they’re not giving us a chance to find out what the community wants.” Darcy Stanford said. “In my opinion nothing should be changed right now because it’s too soon.” Stanford conceded that in St. Augustine, the decibel level limit is lower, by five units, than it is in Flagler Beach.

Rob Plimpton, one of the speakers, described meeting Stanford while she was using a decibel meter outside the restaurant and being “very diligent” about keeping within the limits. “It’s a nice place, it seems like they’re trying to do a good job, keeping by the laws of Flagler Beach. I have a lot of friends that are musicians, they play there. I’ve never noticed loud music that was over loud.” Victor Rugg, a resident of Lambert Avenue who said his family has been coming to Flagler Beach since 1957, said the restaurant had promised not to have amplified music when it originally applied for its permit, though it does have amplified music now. “We want them to stay, I don’t want them to go, but I want this issue to be finally put to bed. If we have to lower the decibels, let’s lower the decibels.” He conceded, however, that it’s happened only twice—the loud noise. “Most of the time they’re quiet. Great. Why can’t they be quiet all of the time?”

It’s not just Hurricane Patty’s: David Hogan told the commission that since he moved to a place near the Beachhouse Beanery, he’s been kept up by the noise at Finn’s, but he’s never complained. “I just don’t see where it does any good to cry to people,” he said.

Hurricane Patty’s itself was relatively quiet Thursday evening, with many of its patrons at the commission meeting. Steve Dobson, a home inspector from Palm Coast, was there, as he is on occasion because of the place’s unique amenities: “This is the only place in Flagler County on the Intracoastal that has public access,” Dobson said, “and that’s what draws my wife and I here. We’re water people. We’re boat people. That’s another thing: This is one of the only places you can boat up to.”

(© FlaglerLive)

38 Responses for “Flagler Beach Commission vs. Hurricane Patty’s: A Lot of Noise Over a Few Complaints”

  1. elaygee says:

    We’ll be eating there just to support them against the town buffoons

  2. lawabidingcitizen says:

    I live across the intracoastal and can hear them all. The “entertainments” at Veterans Park are the worst.

    By what reckoning are we residents and taxpayers in Flagler Beach called buffoons because we don’t want the quality of our lives disturbed by loud music. In the summer, we can hear it even with the windows and doors shut and the AC on. It’s ridiculous that the city commission gave the okay for a restaurant in a residential area to have live bands and their amplifiers outside.

    As for all those jobs and restaurant patrons, I wonder how many of them live in Flagler Beach and pay taxes here.

  3. fbgirl says:

    Yes, I am a Flagler Beach resident and have been for nearly 30 years. Live music is one of the main draws when I am choosing where to frequent. I am looking forward to weather conducive to hearing bands outside at Hurricane Patty’s. Our noise ordinance effectively ends outdoor music at 10 pm, which is really very early. Ear plugs are readily available for local residents not wanting to hear music! Life is too short to not enjoy music and dance!

  4. Palmtree says:

    A restaurant in one form or another has been in this location for years. The commissioners are very anti business and have been for a long time. Think back to the time when McLaughlin was a commissioner and she continually harasses Snack Jacks, her next door neighbor.

  5. John Smith says:

    Well I am a resident and live here also. I should not have to listen to anything that bothers me in MY HOME for which I pay taxes to the city. This place is not St Augustine and the majority of the people at the meeting last night were from St Aug. fbgirl if you would have been at the meeting you would also know that the music does not have to stop at 10 just turn it down which must not be good enough for all the lovers of this place. There was NO quit time either put to them they were also being given an extra hour on Fri and Sat night just turn it down which is not good enough. This is my town to live in not someone from St Aug that thinks they are special and deserve special treatment because they are on Howard Scalar property. TURN IT DOWN AND GET OVER IT OR GO BACK TO ST AUG.

  6. beachbum says:

    Get a life you old farts! This is the trouble with a small town — it has small-minded people living in it. You’re probably whining because it stops you from going to bed at 8 PM.

    For goodness’ sake, the volume isn’t that bad, and it stops (or is turned down) early enough. And if they are complying with the decibel requirements, then leave them alone.

    We BADLY need businesses here at the beach, not just to enjoy but to help with the tax base. Stop trying to kill off anything that helps this town to grow and thrive.

    I for one will be frequenting Hurricane Patty’s more often in support.

  7. Barbara says:

    I think it is really great that we have a place where folks can gather, talk, eat and listen to GOOD music. The stuff they play there is family oriented and makes us feel like we are part of the local community. I pay taxes and I know many of the folks working there are from either the beach or the county. We need places that bring people, and money, to our community.

  8. Sisyphus says:

    …Is curious what the decibel meter readings would have been on the loudspeakers outside the city hall entrance during the hearing, LOL!!!!!

  9. sue says:

    When you purchased your home in Flagler Beach you were aware of the community and the possibility that a restaraunt could open. If you have a problem with noise you should of done your research and purchased somewhere else.
    It’s pain in the asses like this that are ruining the enjoyment of life , for the happy people.. Take your miserery and move on.

  10. John Smith says:

    Play by the rules of the city or take it and your young asses elsewhere

  11. Alison Ghany says:

    Its a wonderful that this restaurant has given so many people an opportunity to work. Would you rather an eyesore of an abandon place that would allow vagrants and trouble makers to hang out? Or a place that many people can enjoy? Hurricane Patty’s is contributing to the city of Flagler Beach. There is no perfect situation.

    Give Hurricane Patty’s a chance. I too will be going there to show my support.

  12. emile says:

    Hurricane Patty’s in St. Augustine is not in a residential area, nor does it face a residential area across the water. This should be taken into consideration.

  13. problemchild says:

    just because you are old and rich, that does not mean that the world owes you something. we both get dressed the same way. so be quiet you old farts

  14. PC MAN says:

    Wow, who would have thought that lawabidingcitizen says is not only a teabagger but a cranky old bat calling the the cops for noise complaints. Not hard to believe at all.

  15. Ron says:

    Not sure what all the fuss is about. Either Hurricane Patty’s is conforming to the decibel level limits, or it isn’t. Shouldn’t be all that hard to measure, right?

    If in fact they are meeting all the noise and zoning requirements, then I guess I can’t really sympathize too much with those who complain. If the majority of residents (and I mean majority) feel the noise requirements should be changed, then I’m sure there are ways to do that. But changes should not be made based on the wishes of a small minority.

    Let’s face it – Flagler Beach is a seaside town, a vacation destination for many. Businesses like Hurricane Patty’s not only draw tourist dollars, but dollars from locals as well. Dollars that add to the tax coffers of the city. Foot traffic that helps the other businesses stay afloat. These businesses are what help to keep places like Flagler Beach alive and thriving.

  16. Flagler Man says:

    Fact. Noise levels decibles in Flagler Beach is 70. If it does not exceed 70, THEN THERE IS NO MERIT TO ANY COMPLAINT. I say keep the levels peeked and amplified at 70 db til 10 pm. Then knock it down to 65. Either way it is LEGAL. So cry all you want complainers. Until a law is broken, there should not even be an arguement.

  17. Flagler Man says:

    Hey I don’t like the way teens hang on the boardwalk…lets make that illegal too!

  18. Darcy Stanford says:

    Most of the employees and there families have been Flagler Beach residents for many years. To be exact there are only eight people that live in St. Augustine, and four of those people are looking to rent in Flagler Beach. Three others came form Michigan, and Tennessee and they live in Flagler Beach aswell now. What does Howard have to do with anything? It seems to me that maybe you dont like Howard so you are attacking us to hurt him.

  19. John Smith says:

    All this talk now is just free advertisement for Patty, so keep it up. That whole commission meeting was just free advertisement.

  20. Mike Sokol says:

    We need an ordinance in FB that requires people who wish to live in FB to take a test to see if they are really Beach People. Get a life you old northerners. You want peace and quiet… move back to Palm Coast!!!

  21. beachbum says:

    …better yet, move back to New York or wherever else you came from! You know: that place where everything is better than here.

  22. Smack says:

    I’m getting old, I hope I don’t become a grumpy old person like John Smith. Simple solution…move…since it’s ruining your life.

  23. John Smith says:

    Well I have been here along time and I can tell all you little snots that the newness will where off and it will and you will all go somewhere else and they will close like everyone else that has been down there. We could probably start a pool on how long they will be there. I can and will wait them out just like every other joint so get over yourselves and go have a good time because time is running out. Do not tell me about their 20 yr lease because if they are not making the rent Howard will throw them out, So you all better not miss a night because it will be gone before you know it. Then there will be peace in the valley.

  24. lambert owner says:

    Give them a break Lambert folk! Flagler Beach needs Hurricane Patty’s. Great location for locals & visitors alike, owners who want to make it work and with time I believe the service & food will improve. A couple nights a week of music will not kill you! Relax and enjoy the free entertainment.

  25. 91LX says:

    Well….. Guess I will have to go and check this place out this weekend. I have to do my part to piss off the old people of Flagler Beach by supporting the local noise factory.

    Now normally I leave the old folks alone that live by me, but seeing how Mr. Smith wishing to talk down and think he is better than myself and all the other younger people that love and live in Flagler Beach, then f him and all the other haters out there.

    I’m sure that Mr. Smith was never young and enjoyed some good music and a nice cold drink at a bar before, right? Damm I hate hippocrates!

    A question for Mr.lawabidingcitizen. Above you asked ” I wonder how many of them live in Flagler Beach and pay taxes here.” Does it really matter how many people live here? Even if they live in Japan they and they are that means that they are spending money here, in our town. Some vistors will stop for gas or a pack of smokes or go to CVS for some Advil. I can go on and on and on. That is money being spent here in all the local businesses tax locals own and work in.

  26. Darcy Stanford says:

    We have followed the laws of Flagler Beach, and intend on continuing. Thats the reason we have not been issued a citation. As for not paying our rent don’t hold your breath. We have other income. We just enjoy providing a place that locals can gather, and enjoy the view, good friends, good music, good food, and a cold drink. A profit would be nice eventually, but for now we intend on putting every penny back in for the next few years to make it even better for the residents, and visitors of Flagler Beach. You actually might like it if you would take a brake from the hostility. As a matter of fact a very large percentage of our regulars are retired. We do want to be good neighbors. We proved it last weekend. The Friday morning after the meeting we immediatly made adjustments to our entertainment for the weekend, and the future to try to make everyone happy. Zero complaints!

  27. lambert owner says:

    You Go Darcy! I’ll keep all the whiners over here under control.

  28. ignorancecosts says:

    Wow, there sure is a lot of name-calling going on. Can’t you folks state your case without that? It really doesn’t give credence to your side of the argument if you can’t debate an issue on its facts and merits alone. What has happened to critical thinking in our country when the first time you disagree with someone you try to demean them?

  29. John Smith says:

    Well when I can not sit in my house without hearing music coming from the outside I have every right to complain. Since Darcy says they are trying to do something about it thats ok. Lets see if it works. That is all I am saying without being bitched out. I have every right to be in my house watching my tv without having to turn it up. I have not heard anything lately so you all need to get a grip and get over it. Hope it works Darcy.

  30. Andy Miklos says:

    I think this thing is being exaggerated. I am one of the locals who have a problem with noise and I am not hiding behind an alias. I hope that any rational person reading this will consider this explanation…

    First of all, no one I know of wants to shut down Hurricane Patty’s. In Fact, Darcy and Tammy have been honest and upfront reaching out to neighbors to keep peace in the neighborhood. They have given folks their cell numbers and asked us to call them, not the police. I agreed to this and have called her when I thought the noise was excessive. She agreed and turned it down.

    I by no means expect the music level to be so low that I can’t hear it. But I would like it to be low enough late at night so that I can sleep.

    My problem is not with Hurricane Patty’s as I believe they are operating within the law.
    My problem is with our city’s ordinance that for some reason allows for a higher than normal threshold for noise. When the ordinance was created the intent was for decibel levels that were in line with surrounding cities and a cutoff time for outdoor amplified music. Neither of those things is in the current ordinance. The table for decibel levels is 5 db higher than the norm allowing 65 db after 10 PM rather than 60 that is the norm. Also the cutoff time for amplified sound was drafted badly and for all practical purposes unenforceable.

    As Darcy wrote, there have been no complaints since the commission meeting and although the sound has been plainly audible at my house it was not excessive (some was really nice). I fully believe that lowering the db limits by 5 db would have No effect on the restaurant as long as they operate as they have since the commission meeting. What it would do is provide a safeguard to residents against excessive noise should that occur. I also think there should be some time limit for amplified music (not acoustic music). Any person with a neighbor playing music at 65db all night long would most likely soon agree.

    The town hall meeting is Monday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 in the commission chambers. It is a meeting to discuss the facts about the Noise ordinance. It affects everyone in this town as it pertains to all types of noise. It is Not about music at 1 restaurant. Mr. Settle who is conducting the meeting has assured me this will not be a gripe session but a rational look at the facts of the ordinance. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

  31. TED JOHNSON says:

    my band played for 4 hrs. last saturday afternoon to a packed house. we were continually asked by customers to “turn it up”, we didn’t. during our “gig” i used my db meter at several locations on the property. special attention was paid to the boat dock area on the river. i also monitored the readings of normal conversation, 52db, bridge traffic from a location in the parking lot, 72db, and at several other locations on the property. db readings alone will never be the only criteria for a complaint.
    i suggest a reading be taken at the point of complaint, the residence phoneing in the problem, then
    visit the source of the noise. like it or not, we are a tourist destination on the water, and you can visit us by boat. that’s why i moved here 30 years ago when THE BRIDGETENDER offered live music nitely.

  32. NortonSmitty says:

    I can’t believe I was out of commission and missed this post. I was one of the Flagler locals who cared enough to show up at the Council meeting. I felt it was my duty as I had been there several times, enjoyed myself and was glad to see some brave souls come in to town where many others had gone down swinging. Anybody brave enough to resurrect what had become a civic black eye and put there money in our city deserves our patronage and support.

    Before the meeting, I was told by a city employee that the reason the subject came in front of them at all is that after the complaints from the residents across the river, they sent someone with the city decibel meter to check it out. Being untrained, he set the meter not to the DBA setting but DBC, which is a whole different scale used to measure bird calls and things. Natch, it exceeded the limit..

    So no problem you would think. I have never at any hour heard the music loud at all from 30 feet away. The only thing I can think of for the complaints from the Folks across the river is that maybe the water amplifies the sound somehow. Or maybe it’s just the lack of children for the cranky old farts to yell “Hey you kids, get off of my lawn” every day to get the vinegar out of their system. Being that I recognize some of them from their crotchety right-wing posts, I’m betting the latter.

    Hey, since they found out what Teabagger really means, maybe they can change the name of that collection of nitwits to the “Hey you kids, get offa my lawn” Party. It sure fits!

  33. Jason Davis says:

    I understand that everyone has a right to their opinions. I am a little dissappointed in especially Mr John Smith. How can you sit at home and pray for a business in your community to fail? You should be old enough to understand the implications of this. Shame on you and your lack of morals. Anyways, I’m sure you will realize this lack of judgment on your part.
    I believe in fairness, and I would love to see everyone happy. Unfortunately, we all know that some will never be happy! I say, lets keep the 95% happy and wait for the other 5% to fade away. Hurricane Patty’s is gonna be in Flagler Beach for a long time. You can chose to be a part of the fun or not. Either way, we’re gonna rock & roll (within the law).

  34. John Smith says:

    As typical the only right people are you people. JASON show me where I said anything about praying for them to fail, I don’t believe I said pray. I said maybe they will and it will all be for nothing. Always the bad guy, but do not really care. Everything has been fine since all this came to a head so let it alone time to move on ( like you said Jason within the LAW).

  35. NortonSmitty says:

    John, as a fellow Smith, get out of your beautiful riverfront cocoon, cross the bridge or the water and come over and have a really good meal and maybe a drink if you want. It would do you a world of good to get out and meet some of your neighbors that you seem to be having a problem with. Nobody will have to know who you are unless you choose to tell. I always enjoy pissing people off face to face so much more, but that’s just me. Let me know here and I’ll meet you and buy the first round. Maybe sitting and listening to that music has got you brooding about other people having fun without you. Give it a shot, you have nothing to lose. Consider this a sincere formal invitation.

    P.S. If your worried about being a pain in the ass without knowing it, don’t. I promise I will be the first to tell you. No worries.

  36. ShoreGirl says:

    It is strange to me how the same few people in this community…Mr. Ellis, Mr. Darrow and Mr. Miklos have to make everyones life a living hell. Shouldn’ t you be playing golf or something? Or..go to Hurricane Patty’s and have a drink and enjoy the music and quit complaining. All 3 of you have complained about everyone in this neighborhood in one way or another. Are your windows still shaking from the excessively loud music? Call your home builder. Allow these people to make a living and support their families. They are doing it honestly. Too bad we couldn’t have a marina close by…or can we? That would give you something new to complain about.

  37. Alishia says:

    I LOVE Hurricane Patty’s, LOVE the water, LOVE boats and the overall atmosphere of Flagler Beach, if you can’t handle the beach life MOVE, I will DEFINITELY be going back for the great food and drinks and the AWESOME music….KEEP up the GREAT work Hurricane Patty’s

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