City noise ordinance approved despite concerns
The long-awaited — and often discussed — city noise ordinance was finally approved Monday night by a 5-2 City Council vote.
Cape Police Chief Dave Newlan explained the new ordinance was changed to include the entire city rather than just the entertainment district.
The ordinance is also tougher, no longer requiring police to necessarily be at the location of the noise to issue citations.
Amplified sound outside of a building is now prohibited between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., unless the sound is associated with a special event for which a permit has been obtained from the city.
This particular part of the ordinance drew several people to the dais to lodge their complaints, many of them young people who work and play downtown.
“We have a stake in downtown. Many of our events take place here. In 10 years, we went from strip malls to an entertainment hub,” said Angela Page. “The city has an identity crisis. Allowing citizens to decide these things is not the answer to this problem.”
On the dais, Councilmember Rick Williams asked the same question many parents have asked about today’s music.
“Is the music good because it’s good and or because it’s loud? We’re discussing volume, not the music,” Williams said. “If you like loud music, put on your headphones, turn the volume up and blow your brains out.”
Councilmember John Carioscia was contrary, saying the absence of a reading makes the ordinance arbitrary.
“You have to be able to prove the noise. How do we do that without a reading? I can’t support this without a reading,” Carioscia said, who along with Cosden, voted against the measure, which had three other trips to council before passing Monday.
Angela Patane said she was happy for the two council members who understood their position, but added this was not the end of the battle.
“We will reach out to City Council members and bringing this up again in future meetings so we can make this beneficial to the entertainment district,” Patane said. “This will stagnate the economy there. It will affect businesses with outdoor seating areas. It’s a step in the wrong direction for bars open until 3 a.m.”
Frankie O’Brien agreed, saying that she hoped they could have found other solutions.
“There are a ton of artists, musicians and business owners who will suffer. I have been a musician for eight years and I moved here because it’s a flourishing place,” O’Brien said. “I understand people needing sleep, but there are people who will miss out on income, especially during season.”
In other business, City Council also voted unanimously to approve $650,000 in funding for the design of a public safety training facility.
Newlan said there was a need for local training of all law enforcement personnel at the federal, state and local levels. And that space elsewhere to go training is limited, especially at the Lee County Gun Range in Lehigh Acres, where more than 20 agencies compete for time there.
Newlan said the cost to use those ranges is $250,000, including fuel costs, ammo and other items.
The facility has had a rough go. After approval on June 3 to use police impact fee reserves to fund the concept and design, it was rejected by the council on July 29 after the state funding request was vetoed by the governor and the department intended on moving forward with the project anyway. Council said more research was needed.
The next City Council meeting will be Monday, Jan. 6, at 4:30 p.m., at City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.