Tampa Shed Noise Debate Lingers

Noise complaints from neighbors near the Ford Amphitheatre in Tampa, Fla., have prompted Hillsborough County officials to discuss changes to its rule targeting noise violators.

County commissioners, acting as the city’s Environmental Protection Commission, were scheduled to meet Sept. 18 to consider changes such as how noise levels are measured to make it a more fair process. Residents are said to be upset the proposed changes would take away their right to complain, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

“It will legalize the excessive noise that has disturbed our neighborhood in the past,” resident Edward Schroering told the paper. “The public will have no legal footing to protect our neighborhoods from the ridiculously loud concerts.”

The dispute is part of a lengthy battle over sound levels at the 20,000-capacity Florida State Fairgrounds shed.

Residents called in more than 400 noise complaints to government agencies over a two-year period and a resulting lawsuit filed by the county ended in a settlement with venue operator Live Nation in 2006.

Live Nation complied with noise reduction terms including lowering the height of lawn speakers, installing sound-limiting electronic devices on speakers and the installation of a $2.6 million, 70-foot wall designed to trap noise. The wall was completed last year and noise complaints reportedly declined.

However, about 50 people complained of noise this summer, including nine for a July 27 Snoop Dogg / 311 concert and 15 for a Slipknot show a couple of days later, the paper reported.

Under the current rule, any noise measuring more than 65 decibels, even for a fraction of a second, is considered a violation. The EPC’s proposed change would make a violation of any noise averaging more than 70 decibels over a 10-minute period.

Schroering disagrees, claiming it would make the noise rule harder to enforce and give Live Nation more room to fudge on noise levels, according to the Times.