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City Floats Outside-The-Box Ideas For Ongoing Noise Complaints

By Bryce Abshier – Contact Bryce@theVOSM.net

Ongoing complaints related to loud music coming from local bars have city officials kicking the tires on some outside-of-the-box ideas, including a potential buffer of bamboo shrubbery, complementary of the City of Belleview.

Complainants from SE 110th Lane again made their voices heard at a recent Belleview City Commission meeting, saying that the frequent blasting of music from the nearby Tropical Vibes Restaurant and Bar has disrupted their peace and way of life. The longtime location of Cal’s Place restaurant on C-25, a relatively quiet diner, is now home to a vibrant nighttime hotspot with karaoke events and plenty of bass to accompany nightly music. The unique trouble that this situation presents is that the residential community of SE 110th Lane backs immediately up to the new late-night attraction, leaving homes with rattling windows and sleep-deprived, distressed inhabitants.

A recent independent audit of noise levels at homes behind Tropical Vibes Restaurant and Bar gave a glimpse of what the neighbors are dealing with. On a Friday night, around 10:00 PM, ambient noise levels in the backyard of a home about 30 yards away from the bar were recorded at 79 decibels. Put into perspective, that is about as loud as a vacuum cleaner or welding equipment. It is worth noting that noise seemed consistently louder to the rear of the bar venue, where the homes are located, rather than the front. Random bursts of music while decibel recording instruments weren’t in use seemed much louder.

City officials have struggled to find a solution for the troubled neighbors of the bar. Tropical Vibes has appropriate zoning to host such events, and as things currently stand the venue is not violating a municipal nuisance ordinance that has historically been used to deal with loud music in Belleview. Officials say Tropical Vibes owners are simply conducting a business that they’re zoned appropriately for.

As previously mentioned, one idea thrown around by city staff to grant relief was the installation of a shrubbery buffer, perhaps made of bamboo. The idea behind this notion was to catch noise radiating from the venue. However, the effectiveness and sustainability of this method had shortcomings. For one, how long would it take for shrubs to grow large enough to provide adequate relief, and even then how effective would it really be? Also, nothing would stop future owners of the venue, should it ever change hands, from just removing the shrubbery buffer.

As of right now, Belleview is the only territory in Marion County without an ordinance specifically related to general noise. Ocala, Dunnellon, and unincorporated Marion County each have ordinances designed for that purpose. Belleview Police Chief Terry Holland said that a noise ordinance has not been needed in the past, as the city’s existing nuisance ordinance has been just as effective at controlling disturbances in residential areas.

Belleview City Legislators did however pass a construction noise ordinance in recent months that prohibited permitted construction on Sundays in Belleview. This was in large part to give residents a break from noisy construction one day per week. The poor residents of SE 110th Lane, unfortunately, have much larger problems than one day of construction noise.

Making this particular situation unique in Belleview, for now, is the fact that a residential neighborhood so closely borders the C-25 plaza that also contains another longtime Belleview late-night anchor, Opus Bar. At the time these developments were made sometime in the 1980s, lack of foresight provided for little buffer between the residences and businesses.

Conceivably though, more problems could be on the horizon as Belleview rapidly grows. Three large planned communities inside of Belleview City limits (Bennah Oaks, Bellehaven, and Autumn Glen) will all border currently undeveloped commercial properties as well. For many locals, this underscores the need for a more permanent, longterm solution.

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