Florida Shed Wants Sovereignty

Complaints of high-volume concerts at Tampa, Fla.’s Ford Amphitheatre has led to a showdown in the courtroom between the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission and shed owner Clear Channel Entertainment.

There have been about 800 violations of the noise ordinance since the facility opened inside the Florida State Fairgrounds last summer, according to the commission. The latest complaints stem from an April 30th radio show featuring 3 Doors Down and a May 21st Allman Brothers show.

“They are violating on almost every concert they hold,” the commission’s general counsel, Rick Tschantz, told the St. Petersburg Times.

Clear Channel spokesman Paul Griscti said the company disputed the allegations and added that the court has not found them credible.

The EPC and two private citizens filed suit against CCE as the lone defendant recently. A previous lawsuit was filed against CCE and the Florida State Fair Authority, but the latter claimed sovereign immunity as a state agency and argued the CCE shed was protected because it was on the fairgrounds.

The new filing could make that argument irrelevant, The Tampa Tribune said, and EPC attorneys argued that the amphitheatre is a tenant, not a government entity, and is not part of fairground property.

Judge Charlene Honeywell is expected to rule on dismissing the trial because of sovereign immunity June 21st. The next court date is set for the end of August, so this summer’s concert season should be unaffected, at least for 11 more concerts, according to the Tribune. Although, the county and some private citizens are reportedly seeking an immediate injunction to stop the noise.

Some advocates for the amphitheatre claim it is a target for litigation because it is a competitor of St. Pete Times Forum, a county facility, the Tribune said.