Noise Debate Not Over

Hillsborough County officials voted to change how noise levels are measured in the county despite protests and complaints from residents near the Ford Amphitheatre in Tampa, Fla.

“We might as well have not said anything,” resident Arnold Stark told the St. Petersburg Times.

The commissioners, acting as the Environmental Protection Commission, reportedly voted 6-0 for the revisions with one member absent. Sound levels will be considered in violation if the source averages more than 70 decibels over a 10-minute period instead of instantly being in violation if the sound spikes above 65 decibels.

EPC members say the new rule is a more efficient and fair way to measure sound, but residents aren’t convinced.

“If a song’s only four minutes long, I guess you could do two songs and talk for two minutes,” said Chris Clifton, a neighbor of the shed who’s spent about $9,000 on more-soundproof windows, according to the paper. “I think we’re being sold on this.”

County officials began re-evaluating the 30-year-old noise ordinance last year with the help of a panel consisting of sound experts and a representative of Live Nation, which operates the 20,000-capacity amphitheatre.

The ongoing debate over sound levels at Ford Amphitheatre began after the venue opened in 2004.

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

Live Nation complied with all noise reduction terms, including the installation of a $2.6 million, 70-foot sound wall at the shed. Complaints reportedly declined.

However, about 50 people called in complaints this summer regarding a July 27 Snoop Dogg/311 concert and a Slipknot show a few days later, the paper said.