Sarasota Co. commissioners pass tougher noise ordinance

Sarasota, Florida -- A new noise ordinance goes into effect next week in Sarasota County with lower decibel readings and earlier start times. It's a change driven by residents who say the loud music from a nearby restaurant is destroying their lives and health.

Residents living along Phillippi Creek say they've been assaulted daily for more than four months by loud music.

"I don't understand how anyone has the right to make their neighbors lives miserable," says Joan Rickey, who lives along the creek across from Bob's Boathouse.

Homeowners have complained music from Bob's Boathouse is so loud it makes their houses shake.

"They dictate what music we listen too. They dictate when we sit on our patios. They dictate when we entertain. They dictate when we can fall sleep."

During Wednesday's commission meeting, residents brought the noise to commissioners. Michele Chapman, a homeowner along Phillippi Creek, recorded the music she hears from Bob's Boathouse and played it at the county's current level of 75 decibels.

"This is 30 hours a week we're hearing this. Now you understand why we are breaking down mentally, psychologically. physically," Chapman told commissioners.

Residents then played the same music at the sound level they recommend, 60 decibels at the receiving end -- 5 decibels lower than the county's proposal and in line with other Bay area counties.

Noise experts say the 10 decibel drop cuts the sound from nearby businesses by 50%.

"We are willing to live with this as a compromise with the business community," says Chapman.

Sarasota County Commissioners received more than 40 complaints about the noise at Bob's Boathouse. Despite two dozen inspections in more than three months, Sarasota County Code Enforcement officers did not find a noise violation, but the controversy sparked a revision of the county's noise ordinance.

"I implore you -- vote as if you live or own property near one of these bars. Everyone deserves peace in their homes," Melissa Martinez asked the commissioners.

Commissioners voted 3-to-1 to accept the residents' proposal of lowering the decibels levels at the complainant's side to 60 dba from 7 a.m. to 10 .p.m. The cutoff time has been moved up to 10 p.m. from 11 p.m., and overnight levels drop to 55 dba between 10 .p.m. and 7 a.m.

But will the new ordinance work for residents living across from Bob's Boathouse?

Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta voted against the new ordinance saying, "It won't work."

Commissioner Christine Robinson voted for the ordinance but has her reservations. She does not think Bob's Boathouse will adhere to the new decibel limits.

"This is going to solve the problem, it is not. They're intent on doing what they are doing," says Robinson.

Residents believe the new noise ordinance gives them a fighting a chance.

"Now that the limits are lowered will be able to sleep again get our lives back," Lee says.

The new noise ordinance goes into effect early next week.


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