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Noisy air conditioning unit in Indian River County keeping residents awake; county can't silence it

Posted at 11:52 PM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 10:04:27-04

Some Indian River County residents say a noisy air conditioning unit is keeping them from sleeping, and drowning out their peace and quiet.

It’s putting out sound louder than what is allowed by the county noise ordinance, but because of exception written in the ordinance, the code enforcement officers can not do anything to silence the device.

Charles and Beverly Widmer are residents in the Village of Lexington. They’re among several residents who have complained about the industrial sized AC unit less than 100 feet from their homes.

It is used by a neighboring assisted living community.

“And as you can see it’s large and it’s noisy,” Beverly said.

The sound is a constant dull vibration that she says she can hear and feel even inside her home.

“And my goodness is it loud,” Beverly said. “It’s like a jet engine. It’s a constant roar.”

They have lived in their home for one year. They did not notice the sound until after they closed on the property.

“When people would visit, they’d go ‘what is that noise?’ And I would jokingly say ‘oh it’s the airport over there’,” Beverly said.

The noise became such a nuisance, one neighbor hired an engineer to measure the sound.

The decibel level was above was is allowed in residential areas, according to the engineer.

But the Widmer’s learned there’s an exception in the noise ordinance for air conditioning units. The law states AC units can operate at the noise level disclosed by the manufacturer. They are only in violation, essentially, if they are not permitted, and if they are making more noise than they are designed to make.

“It’s ridiculous. It really is,” Beverly said.

The same protection goes for pool heaters and similar outdoor mechanical equipment.

“When you retire, you want peace,” Charles said.

Now, the Widmers fear their next plan of action could be to get an attorney involved.

Code enforcement officers say they have received similar complaints on a smaller scale. They advise creating your own sound barrier around your home, with a wall or with landscaping, or hoping your neighbor could construct their own sound barriers.