Stuart City Commission rejects controversial proposed noise ordinance

STUART, Fla. - 7:36 p.m.: The Stuart City Commission has rejected the proposed noise ordinance.

This will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

7:25 p.m.: STUART – City Commissioner Kelli Glass Leighton has made a motion to reject a controversial set of proposed tighter noise regulations and the commission is listening to dozens of residents who have signed up to speak mostly against the rules.

Opponents have invoked the benefits of music and dancing and are asking the city to consider a less stringent ordinance that does not stop live music. Many wear shirts with the slogan "No Music, No Life" and said limiting noise levels to 65 decibels would dampen the redevelopment of downtown Stuart into a vibrant entertainment scene.

Even rapper LL Cool J has been quoted to explain the need for music in downtown.

Real estate agent Janine Landolina, the organizer of the Facebook page "City of Stuart: Don't Stop Live Outdoor Music," quoted a speech by the rapper during Sunday's Grammy Awards.

"Music unleashes us," Landolina quoted him as saying. "Whoever we are and whatever we dream of being."

Many residents said they have not seen as many people show up at a City Hall meeting. The chambers were filled to their 133-person capacity and about 100 stood in the hallway.

Three people have spoken in favor of the ordinance. Downtown business owner Joann Dell'Olio, said loud music is disruptive to people who live in the area and who cannot sit on their balconies at night.

"To not be able to sit on your balcony at night is unfair," she said. "I have the right to be quiet."

7:05 p.m.: More people are speaking in favor of the noise ordinance. A business owner says some people who are in favor were scared to come to the meeting.

6:55 p.m.: Two people out of the crowd have spoken so far in favor of a tighter noise ordinance.

6:35 p.m.: Commissioner Leighton has motioned to strike the noise ordinance.

6:30 p.m.: Thirty people have submitted cards to speak, and the mayor has given each person five minutes to speak. They are estimating it will be about three hours before the City Commission votes.

5:45: STUART – Protesters have filled City Hall chambers to capacity and dozens stand in the hallway to watch the City Commission vote on a controversial noise ordinance that has caused protest over the past two weeks.

Many protesters are wearing black to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the proposed rules. They have organized via Facebook, where an event page called "No Music No Life" prompted residents to show up at the commission meeting.

The city approved a first reading of the ordinance on Jan. 13 that would tighten already existing noise regulations and use specific decibel meter measurements instead of the subjective human ear to gauge sound levels.

Commissioners also approved expanding a 24-hour ban currently in place only in the core of downtown across the city to prohibit noise above 65 decibels.

Residents Christopher and Becky Curchy said they moved from Orlando to Stuart because the city offered a mix of tranquility and a vibrant nightlife they said the new ordinance would impact.

They enjoy listening to local artists in downtown. If music ends there, they said they will start going to Tequesta or Jupiter instead.

"Without live music, (downtown Stuart) would be nothing," Becky Curchy said.

Earlier story

STUART – City commissioners will vote tonight on proposed tighter noise regulations that have caused an uproar among downtown business owners and regular patrons.

The commission will meet at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. and opponents of the proposed ordinance have planned to protest outside the meeting. More than 400 people have signed up for the demonstration on a Facebook event page called "No Music No Life."

Some city officials said they don't support the rules as they are written right now.

City Manager Paul Nicoletti said he will recommend City Commission strikes the ordinance so the city can rework it and include input from residents, such as reinstating time exemptions to the 65-decibel limit currently in place in some parts of the city.

Mayor Troy McDonald and Commissioner Kelli Glass Leighton have said they will not support the ordinance.

Opponents have mobilized since City Commission passed the first reading of the ordinance Jan. 13 that would tighten already existing noise regulations and use specific decibel meter measurements instead of the subjective human ear to gauge sound levels.

Commissioners also approved to expand a 24-hour ban currently in place only in the core of downtown across the city to prohibit noise above 65-decibels.

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