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Entertainment district proposal has loud action

--Guest commentary--

November 13, 2013
By William E. Shenko, Jr. , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

I am intimately familiar with noise and decibels, having been in decibel class with your senior Town Attorney, Jim Humphrey.

Decibels are deceptive. Sound doubles every 10 decibels and increases by 50 percent every three decibels. Keep that in mind.

Our Town was created for one overriding concept in mind, control of land use and zoning. You are the stewards of that power and your decisions will effect us all for years to come.

Over the years, many local bars have applied for outdoor music and alcohol consumption approval. Attorneys, town staff, residents, the LPA and Council have spent thousands of hours reviewing every

aspect of every unique property and how the use affects residents and businesses. Your proposal now is to throw out all that work and bring every bar to the lowest common denominator. I dare say there

was more work put into most individual applications described in your proposal than has been put into your entire entertainment district "plan."

Your consultant cites Orlando and Wilmington, N.C. as examples. Why not Naples, Venice, Sarasota and Marco? Naples probably has more outdoor entertainment that we do!

Your consultant brushes over the fact that Orlando requires an annual renewed permit for outdoor noise from the Police Chief. Your consultant ignores the fact that Wilmington N.C. prohibits "plainly audible" outdoor noise 66 feet from its source. This standard is unenforceable in Florida.

Your proposal takes a huge step off a cliff by redefining short term residential uses as now being "commercial" for the detrimental effects of noise and proximity to alcohol sales, but remain residential

for all other purposes.

Your proposal will permit noise within 50 feet of traditional residential uses. It's now 500 feet. And yet, your plan proposes measuring noise 100 feet from its source. Imagine being told that your bedroom is too close to a bar to measure noise.

Remember sound density doubles every 10 decibels and increases 50 percent every 3 decibels. Your proposal moves the allowable reading from 66 to 75 db. Almost a 100 percent increase in volume.

You need to keep in mind that bar patrons in a noisy entertainment district can leave and go home at any time. Your residents cannot, and are potentially subjected to noise 365 days a year until 2 a.m.

Your proposal is specifically written to "enliven" the beach. At 75 db you will possibly need soundproof glass in this building.

Before you move forward with this proposal, as reasonable and responsible representatives, I respectfully request that you carefully consider the following eight items:

- #1. Hire a sound engineer, educate yourselves as to decibel readings.

- #2. Enforce the zoning and land use restrictions already in place. Where is code enforcement at 11 p.m. or 2 a.m.? Nervous Nellies outdoor music is acoustic - REALLY?

- #3. Compare your proposed plan with Naples, Sarasota, Venice and Marco.

- #4. Do not throw away all the hard work, time, money, and sleepless nights spent in adopting the custom made, property specific regulations in place now. Do not "dumb down" our regulations to the

lowest common denominator.

- #5. Closely review the liability of the Town. I firmly believe the proposal to redefine short term residential properties to now be called "commercial" for purposes of setback from noise or alcohol sales and still be called "residential" for all other purposes is a "taking" by government of a valuable property right. A "taking" claim, perhaps a class action, may cost the Town hundreds of thousands of dollars.

- #6. Think of our residents at 1 a.m.. and 75 db. Virtually 100 percent louder and three hours longer than now permitted.

- #7. Think of driving home from the airport very late dodging all the drunks heading straight for you, leaving your entertainment district on our only road.

- #8. Remember the Downtown Fort Myers entertainment district. Late hours, relaxed noise enforcement and a star on the sidewalk for Ptl. Andrew Whitman. Is that the crowd you want to attract to "enliven" Fort Myers Beach?

William E. Shenko, Jr. is a Beach resident and former FMB Council member. He recently addressed Town officials with this input during public comment at a workshop on the topic.



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