Noise Ordinance Task Force in Lake Worth Holds Public Meeting to Discuss Future of Live Music | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Noise Ordinance Task Force in Lake Worth Holds Public Meeting to Discuss Future of Live Music

Wednesday night's Noise Ordinance Taskforce meeting at the Compass Community Center Lake Worth was the latest milestone in a 20-year dispute between residents who live near downtown Lake Worth and venues hosting live music nearby. According to the flier circulating, the meeting was intended to discuss upcoming recommendations to the City Commission to establish "a truly viable noise ordinance in the community."

Assistant to the City Manager Rachel Smithson wants to be clear that the city's stance is not to kill live music in downtown Lake Worth but to reach a compromise that takes into account the needs of locals nearby. "People who work at night deal with noise as well," argues Propaganda's Steve Rullman. And based upon the current ordinance on the books, the only stipulation for unruly noise, be it from the Jameses onstage or a lawn mower trying to beat the heat, is something characterized as "loud and raucous."

"It's an issue cities don't want to touch because it pits the business community against the residents," Smithson says, and points out major music hubs like Austin, Texas, as an example.


John Cohen has been brought in to help reach

a compromise:


proposal also says no clearly audible noise should be heard from

the bedroom of any home from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. (except for homes

directly on Lake or Lucerne avenues). And it says bar-generated sound

must drop from a maximum of 85 decibels measured at the curb to 75

decibels after 10 p.m. -- and to 65 decibels, slightly louder than normal

conversation, after midnight.

However, downtown business owners think that the recommendation

is unreasonable:

"An ordinance with a structure will eventually come out of

this," says

Chrissy Benoit, owner of Havana Hideout and a member of the task force.

"But the proposal is for 65 decibels at the curb, and we've measured 72

here on a Taco Tuesday! Harleys are louder than that. Neighborhood

barbecues are too. People still need to email their city commissioners

at about this."

No word if there was a recommendation to move to soft

shells for Taco Tuesday. Regardless, Rullman is disappointed that the

dispute had to come to this. He says that numerous proposals and offers

have been discussed to provide noise-abatement material for local homes affected by the noise. Plus, some of the local musicians were

keen on staging a benefit to raise funds to provide soundproofing. "Police need to have a guideline by which to enforce a

law," he says. "The proposals put forward by the homeowners are

unrealistic with

regard to the decibels. If you have a neighbor, you

go talk to them and work it out."

The next step, Smithson says, is for the task force to hammer out

recommendations on Monday and Wednesday. In the meantime, people who

would like to voice their thoughts can contact