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Neighbors ask Largo to rein in new bar's noise

LARGO — Ben Gustafson didn't have a problem with living close to a bar — until it changed hands. Now, he said, his nights are disrupted not only by loud music, but also by vibrations that enter his home.

Gustafson, 57, of Largo appeared before the City Commission Tuesday to complain about noise coming from Mako's on the Rocks, a bar that opened in June at 14450 Walsingham Road. He brought along a petition with 68 signatures from Largo residents and visitors complaining about the bar.

"Mako's has been very disruptive to a lot of people," he told the commission.

Gustafson lives in Caribbean Cove, a neighborhood about 200 feet from the bar. His family hears a "loud, vibrating woofer sound" from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., he said.

"It's not only that you can hear it, you can feel the vibration," Gustafson said. "It's a noise pollution nuisance to the whole community."

City Manager Mac Craig said the city has been addressing the complaints, but it's hampered by a lack of functional equipment. The city's two decibel readers must be calibrated and a police officer must be trained to use them before the city can quantify the noise coming from the bar, he said.

Police should be able to use the decibel readers after Aug. 16, he said.

"We will get it under control," Craig said.

Craig had previously received "sporadic" complaints about Mako's from people living in unincorporated Pinellas County. Nevertheless, Craig said the noise complaints are Largo's business.

"I don't care who gets to hear the noise and where they live, the bar is ours and we need to take care of it," Craig said. "The bar is making the noise, and the bar is in Largo."

For now, police officers will check on the area surrounding Mako's and meet with the bar's management, Craig said. Businesses that cause noise complaints often cooperate with the city, he said.

While circulating the petition, Gustafson said, he heard from other residents that the bar had removed its insulation and installed outdoor speakers. Mako's owner, Robert Florio, said that isn't true.

"There's been more insulation put in here," he said. "We've done everything to improve the place."

Florio said he turned down the bar's music and repositioned its speakers after hearing complaints from residents.

"We're trying to do everything we can without losing business," Florio said. "I don't know what else we can do."

The building Mako's is in once housed a bar called Sassy's, which Gustafson said he and his wife used to visit. They never had a problem with noise outside the building, he said.

"It was loud in the building, but once you shut the door in the nightclub, it would stop," he said.

Gustafson stressed that he has no problem with the bar itself, just the way its noise travels.

"I don't object to loud music. I grew up in the rock 'n' roll era, and I really enjoy it," Gustafson said. "What we're asking is simply to soundproof the building."

Katie Park can be reached at (727) 445-4154 or kpark@sptimes.com.

Neighbors ask Largo to rein in new bar's noise 08/06/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 6, 2011 4:31am]
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