Florida Shed Battles On

The Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission in Florida rejected a request October 20th to allow concerts at Tampa’s Ford Amphitheatre to exceed the county’s noise ordinance.

In a 4-3 vote, commissioners told venue operator Clear Channel Entertainment they might reconsider granting a noise waiver if the company proceeds with plans to build a sound barrier and prove it works, according to the Tampa Tribune.

In September, CCE presented a nine-page document suggesting repositioning lawn speakers at the 20,000-seat shed at the Florida State Fairgrounds. In addition, the company reportedly promised to install an approximately $2.5 million barrier which would reduce concert noise by half.

The EPC recommended approval of a waiver, but with a lower sound level than CCE had requested.

“I’m sure we’re going to consider all this, but I have no idea what we’ll do going forward. We have an investment,” CCE exec Wilson Rogers told the Tribune. “There’s much more emotion that went into the vote than clear logic.”

Eight people who live near the amphitheatre spoke against the waiver at a public hearing. Richard Dakin said Clear Channel told residents before the venue’s construction that it could live with the county’s noise rule.

“If they were men of their word, they would abide by what they said originally,” Dakin reportedly said.

At press time, Clear Channel had the option of either complying with the noise rules or continuing its legal fight. An October 28th deadline to reach an out-of-court settlement on noise levels could push the issue back into court.

“I think a lot of stuff will be filed in court after the 28th,” EPC attorney Rick Tschantz told the paper. “We’re going to start gearing up for court.”

In December 2004, the EPC filed a lawsuit against CCE seeking to halt concerts at the shed until it could meet county noise regulations. Clear Channel has denied violating the standards and complained that the venue was treated differently than others in the surrounding area.