Town officials have altered a special event permit for a proposed two-day festival put on by Nervous Nellies Crazy Waterfront Eatery to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Old San Carlos Boulevard. The modifications have forced Nervous Nellies to hold the event on its licensed premises only.
The Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously restricted many conditions of the permit request for the fourth annual St. Patrock's Day Festival after hearing much opposition by neighboring residents of the establishment and holding discussion amongst themselves. The permit was subject to the applicant meeting all requirements in Fort Myers Beach Ordinance #12-04.
Town staff supported the application, but Council members were uncomfortable with the event's scope. Instead of a two-day event (Sunday, March 16 and Monday, March 17) that featured eight hours of amplified music each day and open containers in the Town and public right-of-ways (Town fountain area, grassy area near Marina Village at Snug Harbor), Council limited the permit's range to one day (March 17) with hours from 1 to 6 p.m. (noon to 1 for set-up and sound check only) of non-amplified music and no open containers allowed in ROW. Conditions also included the hiring of Town code enforcement at the applicant's expense. Two Lee County Sheriff's Office deputies were already paid for by Nervous Nellies that day.
"Mr. (Rob) DeGennaro (Nervous Nellies owner) personally told me after the last thing we went through with them that he was not going to do these kinds of events anymore," said Councilwoman Jo List. "We already established amongst ourselves a half year ago to a year ago that these events were not workable in our neighborhood. I'm amazed that this came to us."
"This is going over the line," added Councilman Bob Raymond, who commented the staging should be set up on Nervous Nellies' property.
The festival was being billed as "family friendly entertainment" with food, raffles and drink. Portable rest rooms, perimeter fencing, signage and trash receptacles were to be provided.
List, who called DeGennaro one of the most creative businesspeople on the island and Nervous Nellies a great business establishment, stated she wished the application would have listed what type of music was being proposed.
Councilman Dan Andre received a round of applause when he stated his solution was to allow only non-amplified music to such special events outside any business' property line.
No one representing Nervous Nellies was present at the meeting to speak on behalf of the event.
Manager Steve DeAngelis was reached for comment afterwards and stated that there has never been an incident in the event's four years, thus he doesn't understand why the event cannot be permitted after receiving prior permits. In response to imposed conditions, he has cancelled the special event and moved the festival on business premises.
The event has served as a fundraiser for the Community Emergency Response Team in the past. This year CERT and the Lynx Educational Foundation are the benefactors.
"We at Nervous Nellies are a little disappointed. Due to these new restrictions, we won't be able to have the scale of fundraiser for these two entities as originally planned," DeAngelis said. "We will still have benefits for those groups on our property."
"The Dweebs," a Wisconsin-based act that features contemporary top 40 music, is still lined up to perform.
"That band will still perform here at a lower decibel level within the hours that we are already permitted to have music," said DeAngelis. "We are still going to try to break the record for selling 6,000 pounds of corned beef over Sunday and Monday. We want everyone to come down, wear their green and bring their appetites and enjoy a great show with a great band."
Before the Council action, Marina Village chairman Alan Duncan was the first of several public speakers who asked that Council takes steps in limiting or rejecting the application. Speaking on behalf of his condominium association, he stated Council should charge the applicant an appropriate fee for use of the "public park" and requested a code enforcement officer be on duty to monitor noise levels.
"Sixteen hours of noise and public drinking is an intrusion upon the life of residents where the proposed festival takes place," he said. "We think the festival should be confined to St. Patrick's Day."
Public speakers reported that, due to the stage setup being on the grass adjacent to Marina Village's building, windows have shaken during amplified music performances in the past which forces residents to leave their premises. Others say the whole block is littered with trash and unwanted sound.
"It is deplorable what we hear and see during the actions that go on," said Crescent Street resident Doris Grant. "I am going to have family here, and I certainly don't want my children and grandchildren to witness it."