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Indian Rocks Beach cranks up efforts to regulate bar bands

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Residents here have mixed feelings about live music performed at more than half a dozen bars and restaurants in the city.

They enjoy the music when patronizing the establishments, but don't like it when it disturbs the peace of their homes, particularly when amplified bass sounds rattle their windows.

Loud music coming from JD's Restaurant, Cuso's Club & Cantina, Crabby Bill's, My Place, Jimmy Guana's and other city establishments has prompted a growing number of complaints, particularly from residents along Gulf Boulevard and from the Shipwatch Yacht & Tennis Club on the Intracoastal Waterway in Largo.

The two dozen residents attending the City Commission's special workshop Wednesday, however, were a sharp contrast to the boisterous, standing-room-only crowds at a similar meeting a month ago.

Also lacking was any heated rhetoric as the commission reached for a series of solutions:

• Form a citizens committee of residents and business owners who will debate whether a permit for live music played outside should be required in the city, and what sound levels are excessive.

• Create city regulations to set new noise standards, particularly for amplified sound.

• Increase enforcement of those new regulations.

"This is something that is affecting people's lives," said Commissioner Dan Torres, who suggested that homeowners and restaurant owners on the committee might be "at odds."

Such an outcome would not be helpful to the city, Mayor R.B. Johnson said.

The commission will meet again Jan. 26, when it plans to appoint the committee and vote to tentatively approve the noise standards ordinance. A final vote is planned Feb. 9. Both meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

"Anyone interested in serving on the committee should fill out a form at City Hall," City Manager Chuck Coward said Friday.

The commission has yet to decide what tasks it will ask the committee to address, but they could include the permitting issue and how to properly test and set sound level standards, Coward said.

During the workshop discussion, commissioners debated whether the noise committee should be permanent or temporary.

"I see this as a relatively short-lived committee with intense input into the noise issue," Johnson said.

Coward warned that the committee should not be asked to get involved in code enforcement.

The commission hopes to get a report back by March.

"Everybody is on the same sheet of music," said Commissioner Phil Hanna. "We enjoy both the music and the peace and tranquility of our homes."

Coward said there have been no complaints about sound levels in the past several weeks.

Part of the reason may be the weather, he said, as more residents are closing their windows to the cold.

But it could be also that restaurant and bar owners are toning down the music.

Cindy LaRosa, a member of the North 2 South band that performs at JD's Restaurant on Gulf Boulevard, said the group is trying to reduce its sound output by 25 to 30 percent.

"It is no longer an issue of us against them. We are 100 percent on board to find a solution," she said. "We are trying to set an example."

Jay Downing, the owner of JD's, called on other restaurants to "watch yourselves and make sure it's not too … loud."

Indian Rocks Beach cranks up efforts to regulate bar bands 01/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 8:08pm]
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