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Hearing delayed on concert noise

If you bought tickets for the Hank Williams Jr. concert Jan. 29 at the Ford Amphitheatre, fear not.

The show will go on.

A judge decided Wednesday to delay a hearing that could have forced venue operator Clear Channel Entertainment to pull the plug on the Williams concert, said Don Conwell, an attorney handling Clear Channel's case.

The Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County has received more than 160 concert noise complaints from nearby residents since the amphitheater opened last summer. Last month, the EPC filed a lawsuit asking for an injunction halting all future events there until Clear Channel and the Florida State Fair Authority could take measures to turn down the volume.

Clear Channel has disputed some of the EPC's claims. On Monday the entertainment giant filed to push the injunction hearing, scheduled for Friday, to next month, arguing there was not sufficient time to prepare for the case. Judge Gregory Holder granted the appeal and moved the case to Feb. 4.

While the new hearing date may be good news for Clear Channel, it could spell trouble for the Florida State Fair, which will kick off less than a week after the hearing.

Fair officials recently unveiled this year's headline entertainment, Travis Tritt on Feb. 10 and the Neville Brothers on Feb. 14. Both shows are scheduled for the Ford Amphitheatre.

If the injunction is granted in February, both concerts could be in jeopardy.

"We will do whatever we need to do to appeal that," said fair executive director Charles "Chuck" Pesano.

The furor over concert noise at the amphitheater reached a fever pitch after a Dec. 7 concert by Korn and other hard rock acts. That show generated noise levels more than 30 decibels above the county's acceptable limit in surrounding neighborhoods, leading the EPC to consider blocking a Dec. 11 charity concert by the Charlie Daniels Band.

That concert, which was not organized by Clear Channel, ultimately took place _ and only once did noise levels blip over the county limit.

Pesano is confident the Fair Authority, which hires an outside contractor to handle sound and lighting for concerts at the state fair, can maintain the noise standard set at the Charlie Daniels show.

"Hopefully before we get to that point, we can come to an agreement with the EPC as it relates to the Florida State Fair," Pesano said. "We actually feel pretty confident that when the fair gets here, we will have concerts."

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