Here's to hoping the right police officer is the first to lose his job when the tax revenues decline. This is just ridiculous.
The Florida House Inn and Green Turtle Tavern renewed their rivalry last weekend, overshadowing a rather dull football game between the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs.
Gators fans are loud, Bulldogs fans sometimes even louder, and the racket cost a Green Turtle bartender a ticket for a $1,000 fine for violating the city noise ordinance.
According to a city police report, “The complaint was received from a William Miller, who claimed he was a guest staying at the Florida House Inn and declined to speak with an officer.” The call was recorded at 1:02 a.m. Saturday, as fans warmed up for the game later that day.
Richard Myers of Tybee Island, Ga., in a letter to the editor (see page 7A), wrote, “During my family’s annual visit to beautiful Amelia Island for Georgia/Florida weekend, we left our hotel and went downtown for a late meal and some local color. The town was abuzz with many fellow Bulldogs enjoying the local nightlife.”
He maintained, “There was no live music and an older crowd of well-behaved locals and visiting Bulldogs” at the Green Turtle.
A police officer, however, reported, “I could clearly hear loud talking and yelling coming from the outside porch area of Green Turtle by bar patrons
. . . I was standing over 100 feet away.” The city ordinance proscribes noise outside a 25-foot limit.
Officer M.S. Mazuryk said “due to loud music inside the bar” the bartender was asked to come outside and talk. Informed of the complaint, bartender Jeffrey James Werder told police “in his opinion his patrons were not being loud and that the complaint was fictitious,” according to the report.
During their conversation "a bar patron yelled, ‘The Florida House sucks!’ at an extremely loud level,” the officer wrote, but which of the 15 bar patrons could not be determined.
Werder then received a notice to appear in court with a fine of $1,000 for a second violation (he previously received a written warning and $250 fine for a noise violation).
The Bulldog letter writer dissented. “The only loud noise that occurred was when police antagonized the exiting patrons by treating us like cattle! I am sorry to say that next year my family and my money will visit Ponte Vedra Beach or St. Augustine for Georgia/Florida weekend,” Myers wrote.
The next day, at 7:02 p.m. Sunday, police received another noise complaint from Florida House owner Dianne Warwick. She said the Green Turtle had a band “playing amplified music that could be heard over 100 feet from the establishment.” Police responded but the band had stopped playing and no noise violations were observed, according to the report.
It wasn’t just Bulldogs fans that objected to the city crackdown on noise. Mark Osteen of Philadelphia also wrote a letter to the editor about World Series baseball, complaining, “God forbid you cheer for your Phillies a little too loud in the city limits, you might get fined or arrested! Your noise ordinance is anti-business and anti-American! Your city won’t get my tourist dollars ever again!”
After numerous loud and sometimes heated public hearings, the city revised its noise ordinance earlier this year following years of complaints by the Florida House Inn about noise emanating from the Green Turtle next door on Third Street.