Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Diners' Neighbors Want Noise Law Strengthened; They Say the Music Is Too Loud, but Restaurants' Owners Dispute That

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Diners' Neighbors Want Noise Law Strengthened; They Say the Music Is Too Loud, but Restaurants' Owners Dispute That

Article excerpt

Byline: SHAKAYA ANDRES

PONTE VEDRA BEACH - Several residents said this week it's time for St. Johns County to review its 1988 noise ordinance.

Their suggestion came amid criticism of outdoor entertainment noise coming from Pusser's Caribbean Grille on Florida A1A and Aqua Grill in Sawgrass Village.

At Tuesday's County Commission meeting, Dan MacDonald, a Ponte Vedra Beaches Coalition member, and two other residents complained that the noise from Pusser's carries into people's homes even when the windows and doors are closed. MacDonald said the county's instruments for measuring acceptable noise levels are unreliable.

"It's a problem, he said. "It's a big problem. The decibel standard just doesn't cut it."

Cary Paige, Aqua Grill general manager, said they have been sensitive to residents' needs by driving around the neighborhoods to make sure that they can't hear the music.

"The traffic and lawn mowers make more noise than the music," he said. "We're not looking to make waves. We are in the restaurant business. Right now, we're below the guidelines."

Aqua Grill will feature a two-person band from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sundays for the next couple of months. Last week, restaurant workers lowered the volume 25 percent to ensure they weren't too loud, Paige said.

At Pusser's, music is played at various times five days a week all year long.

The businesses' managers said live music is a huge draw for business and serves as an outlet for the Ponte Vedra Beach community, especially during the tough economic times, when people are cutting back.

"Not having live music impacts business,"' said Pusser's Executive Chief Chris DeLay. "Sundays especially. We rely a lot on our live entertainment."

Paige said, "For us, the live band has definitely increased our business, 100 percent without a doubt, on Sundays. …

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