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Flagler Beach Commission To Noisy Restaurants and Irritable Residents: Cooperate

| March 3, 2011

It's a block party: The Flagler Beach City Commission had a field trip Thursday, terying to learn about decibel levels, compliments of City Clerk Penny Overstreet's impressive car stereo. (© FlaglerLive)

It’s not entirely clear what the exercise achieved. The short of it is this: the noise ordinance in Flagler Beach is not about to change, and music-rich restaurants and residents are kindly asked to work together toward a solution that would preclude legal changes.

As always with the Flagler Beach City Commission, there’s the long of it, too, and it is this: For about half an hour Thursday afternoon, commissioners trooped out of their chamber –twice—and stood across the street as City Clerk Penny Overstreet blasted Kid Rock from her car stereo and a city cop measured the noise level on his Quest Technologies decibel meter. It read 73.6, and stayed in the low 70s when the cop moved a block down the avenue. It fell to 67 when he took a reading a block north of the blasting. The music may not have had much to do with it: even with the music off, the meter read in the same range.

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“Ambient noise,” the officer explained. He was surrounded by commissioners and others attending the meeting. By city ordinance, noise levels may not exceed 70 in touristy and commercial zones.

Commissioners then trooped back into their chamber and resumed their workshop. They’re trying to figure out how to handle complaints from residents about music at local restaurants, one restaurant in particular: Hurricane Patty’s, on the east side of the Intracoastal, which opened last December and features musical acts almost every evening.

Noise levels emanating from Hurricane Patty’s have never been measured in excess of city regulations. That hasn’t stopped the complaints. There hasn’t been many. But there’s been enough to catch the ear of commissioners and to hold an inconclusive town hall meeting on the matter last month. The workshop was to give commissioners a better understanding of what differing decibels really sound like, and whether changing the city’s noise ordinance was in order.

It reads 73.4: in violation. (© FlaglerLive)

They discovered that decibel levels are not necessarily the issue. Bass levels are. “You can be within the reading but still annoy people, you know what I’m saying?” Commission Chairman John Feind said. “If we could turn the bass down a little bit then I think everybody would be a whole lot happier.” No ordinance—and no decibel meter—singles out bass levels. But people feel that bass in their guts, “on the inside,” Commissioner Ron Vath said. When they complain about noise, it’s often bass sounds they’re complaining about.

They also heard from Jason Davis, the entertainment director at Hurricane Patty’s, who told commissioner he’s in the habit of trudging around the restaurant, even going through people’s backyards, a decibel meter in hand, to measure sound levels on music evenings. Last Saturday he had a band there. His decibel meter registered 62 when he was in walking all around the block. He lowered the sound anyway. Then cops showed up. The decibel meter was then reading 54. “We have a business to run. If you give us the law, we will follow it,” Davis said. Meanwhile, he said, the restaurant was doing what it could, without compromising the quality of the music inside the establishment, to work with the neighbors “to make peace.”

With that in mind, Commissioners decided to do nothing for now. They’ll take a record of every complaint that comes in. They’ll analyze the complaints and measure them against the restaurant’s verified noise levels. They’ll enforce the 10 o’clock cut-off of music allowed at 70 decibels (it must fall below 60 after 10 p.m.). And they’ll consider tweaks to the ordinance, including possibly looking at changing the 60-decibel limit at 10 p.m. But not until weeks or months from now, if necessary.

Since the workshop was about the noise ordinance, the commissioners also heard from Flagler Beach residents  who have no complaints about restaurants—but plenty of complaints about intolerable, indifferent, incorrigibly yappy dogs. You know the sort. Many neighborhoods have them. They start barking. They don’t stop. Cops or code enforcement shows up. The yapping stops for a while. Then it starts up again, if not the same day, then the following day. And it goes on. And on. And on. Janet Powell, a resident on South Daytona Ave., has had enough. She’s hard of hearing, and she lives two doors down from the offending dogs—four of them—yet she hears them to the point of being unable to move a chair on her patio without triggering their yappy onslaught. Another neighbor said she had tapes of the dogs yapping for nine hours straight.

Powell asked commissioners for solutions. They suggested dog muzzles. Or calling code enforcement and the police. Powell has called. The problem continues. Commissioners were out of suggestions.

6 Responses for “Flagler Beach Commission To Noisy Restaurants and Irritable Residents: Cooperate”

  1. Concerned person says:

    Train the Police Officers on how to use the sound meter. It’s like running a radar unit you must be certified to do so. If the officers are not trained then obviously they cant enforce the sound ordinance. And if I were an officer I would not want to go to court and look like a BIG dummy in front of the judge trying to explain how a sound meter works if I had no clue…Just saying.

  2. lawabidingcitizen says:

    There is no reason for a restaurant to play music outdoors in a residential area. People are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their homes and not be annoyed by unnecessary noise. Let the music be kept inside and the issue will be solved.

  3. LivingInReality says:

    Flagler Beach is a small town, everybody knows where the restaurants are. I you move next to onw then thats your choice, so don’t go around bitching about the music or the traffic. You knew what you were moving next when you bought the property.

  4. popo3984 says:

    you old people need to get a life who cares if they play music i guess you want the city to not have any real restaurants how about you just move and let us have fun

  5. NortonSmitty says:

    OK, Law Abider, I do kinda owe you guys on the river an apology. I did a little work for Patty’s, visited a few evenings and enjoyed myself. They really are nice, hard working people who are hanging their ass out in the wind and trying to make it in this dead calm economy. You have to admire that and we all should root for them to make it. Any operation has to be better than another closed down derelict building here in our beloved Mayberry by the Sea.

    So when the complaints started almost immediately about the noise, I knew that the entertainers I saw were never loud. Hell, they were never loud enough! So I signed th Petition, went to the council meeting and rode you guys complaining hard.

    So Imagine my surprise when I went there on the boat last week and about ten PM went to check on my baby and heard music on the back dock. Not loud, but coming from about five speakers pointing out and down on the river, playing the music from the rear seating. Nobody on the dock. And we know how sound carries over water. So I pointed this out to the manager, he had no idea they were on, where to turn them off or why they were on. The next day I went back and we traced it down and found where the feed was and made sure it doesn’t happen again.

    I hope this cures our problems. If not, I’m sure you will let us know. G’nite

  6. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Just some facts.

    1. We were here well before loud intrusive music inflicted on innocent people living within hearing distance in a residential area, was another in a long line of entitlements … and BTW, we live down river and, as they say, sound carries over water.

    2. There was a very nice restaurant at that location with a raw clam bar when we moved here 20 years ago. Any music was either kept low or kept indoors and no my knowledge, there were no complaints.

    3. The Flagler Beach commission suggesting that the injured parties make nice with the perps of the problem is typical or them. They can’t seem to internalize that they work for us, the taxpayers, not a “here today, gone tomorrow,” food and noise merchant.

    4. For Johnnies-Come-Lately, there have probably been at least three or four previous incarnations of food purveyors at that location since the old bridge came down. I wish the latest well, but don’t want to be part of their operation.

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