NEWBERRY – Newberry resident Matt Hersom said he had to yell to have a conversation with his neighbor over the fence to be heard over the music from a nearby restaurant.
Though he’s been told in the past to keep in mind that local businesses are trying to make a living, that is no excuse for the loud music, Hersom said at Monday night’s city commission meeting.
“I don’t think excessively loud music is necessary for this to occur,” Hersom said.
Newberry’s noise ordinance wasn’t on the evening’s agenda, but there was some discussion about the matter. City Attorney Scott Walker said he was hopeful that the first draft of the noise ordinance rewrite would be available at the next commission meeting.
Commissioners debated whether the phrase “plainly audible” would be included in the ordinance. Walker believed that if there was not a definitive, qualitative measurement, it would be difficult to prosecute based on the subjective language of “plainly audible.”
Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Sergant Kaley A. Behl said her office has filed sworn complaints relating to the noise problem in Newberry. These sworn complaints were given to the City, which can not act upon them because of the subjective nature of the current ordinance.
Commissioners also expressed concern over using a decibel meter because there is only one meter at the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. Though there is a decibel reader in Newberry, there is a limited number of people who can operate the machine in both the sheriff’s office and the city.
Commissioner Alena Lawson believes that law enforcement and city officials should be given more options to enforce the ordinance.
“It’s going to defeat the purpose if they don’t have at least two or three options,” she said.
Though there were no definitive results at the commission meeting about the ordinance, which Walker calls a “work in progress,” citizens’ comments showed that the issue is a problem.
Some people just want results.
“We have complained and complained and complained and complained and we’ve had no results,” Newberry resident Martha Palmer said at the meeting.
On the other hand, the owner of Rocky’s Place, Rocky Voglio, said that he is doing everything he can to accommodate the existing ordinance. The family-style restaurant was found in violation of the ordinance on a recent Friday night.
Voglio said he has spent $200 to order a decibel meter that he hopes to have in by this week. Despite his efforts, Voglio said he still thinks there will be complaints even when keeping within the noise limits because citizens have “zeroed in” on certain individuals.
“That’s all I can do is try,” the restaurant owner said. “But I don’t think it’s going to matter.”
Further discussion about the noise ordinance will take place at the next commission meeting on March 12.
Restaurant music raises ire of Newberry residents
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