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Residents, businesses continue to bang noise ordinance drum

By Staff | Feb 4, 2020

Two months after a controversial noise ordinance was passed by the Cape Coral City Council, the measure is still bringing people to City Hall to give their points of view and beg that the ordinance be revisited and changed.

Groups both in support and opposed once again stepped to the podium during during citizens input Monday, just a few days after the two sides got together with city officials to try to reach an accord.

Once again, the staff and management at Rusty’s said that without the late-night music they previously could provide, their staff and business were suffering, since with no customers, there are no tips for the staff.

Part of the issue is Rusty’s proximity to the condos across the street.

Nicole Isner, of Rusty’s, said they were able to get into one of the units to measure the sound while a band was playing and it measured 44 Db, which she said is documented with video.

“We have done away with our late-night music and it’s killing our sales. We just want to be able to address and get to some sort of happy medium,” Isner said, adding the police were called on them once again on Friday due to drum noise from another location. There was no music playing at their location, just a TV on a rainy night.

Isner said at the special meeting on Jan. 29, stakeholders agreed there has to be a reasonable accord for some sort of decibel reading.

For some, there is no compromise

Ruth Jenkins, who lives near the entertainment district, complained that last year she was hearing music as late as 2:30 a.m. as loud as 90 Db from their front porches.

“We have someone who teaches school, and Thursday evening when there are late bands and they play until 2:30 a.m. and she has to teach and has a daughter in elementary school, I wouldn’t want my children to be up that late and then put a day in at school,” Jenkins said.

Rusty’s stays open until 2 a.m. and has made no request for a late hour permit extending that time on the weekends.

Joan Leahy added that prolonged exposure to noise pollution can cause medical problems such as stress, poor concentration, fatigue and even cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, mental health issues, tinnitus and hearing loss.

Councilmember John Gunter said he attended the meeting and said everyone seems to be looking for relief and that Rusty’s is being impacted the most even though it is a citywide ordinance.

“Amplified sound can be watching TV on the lanai and that would be illegal after 11 a.m. if the sound is too high. The same can be said about a cellphone on speaker mode,” Gunter said. “I was supportive of the ordinance but when some of the problems began to surface, I thought there would be a better avenue to govern the noise.”

Gunter suggested a 60-day pilot program where the police could monitor decibel levels before and after 11 p.m. and give council hard data so they can look at the problem.

Gunter also suggested putting it on the agenda, which was questioned by Mayor Joe Coviello.

“I don’t mind putting it on the agenda, but I don’t think we’ll have much more information about the direction to go in,” Coviello said. “I don’t see how one week’s time period is going to give us more information.”

Coviello said this is two issues: the amplified sound and the appropriate decibel levels.

Police Chief David Newland said he would look further into the situation and see if sound buffers or other things can be done to appease neighbors.