Delray Beach: DJ request fires up noise opponents

By Tim Pallesen
Coastal residents fear the Sandbar tiki bar might test the limits of Delray Beach’s new noise ordinance.
    Ocean Properties, the owner of the tiki bar adjacent to Boston’s on the Beach, is asking the city for a conditional use permit to allow an outdoor DJ.
    Neighbors say the Sandbar already has become a biker bar with motorcycle noise as disruptive as the music. They fear an outdoor DJ will make matters worse.
    “DJs know how to mix up the songs to get people in a frenzy,” warns Fran Marincola, chairman of the Beach Property Owners Association noise committee.
    Ocean Properties vice president Tom McMurrain said adding a DJ won’t be a big change because the Sandbar already is allowed to play outdoor recorded music.
    “The only purpose in adding a DJ is to select music that people want,” McMurrain said, “and we’ve agreed that the DJ won’t have a microphone.”
    That doesn’t satisfy George Brandon, the most vocal neighbor since the tiki bar opened in 2011.
“The Sandbar is the worst thing that’s ever happened in Delray Beach,” said Brandon, who lives next door. “This used to be a peaceful community.
    “Now we have a biker bar with incredibly loud music. All last Sunday afternoon they played this horrible recording that no one on the city council would tolerate,” he said.
    “We need a strict noise ordinance or this city is history,” Brandon warned.
    The proposed ordinance would ban any music that is clearly audible within 100 feet, which includes Brandon’s condo. Music would be prohibited after 11 p.m. on weeknights and after 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
    The BPOA, which wants a citywide ban on loud noise 24 hours a day, wasn’t aware of the Sandbar request to allow a DJ when the proposed noise law was debated by residents and restaurant owners at a May 13 public hearing.
    Coastal residents thought they had resolved Sandbar noise issues with Ocean Properties last year. “They did a good job then of mitigating the sound by turning down the speakers and becoming more community friendly,” BPOA president Andy Katz said.
    So debate at the May 13 hearing centered on downtown, where Barry Tunick, a resident on Northeast Fourth Avenue, objected to loud music until 2 a.m. on weekends at Johnnie Brown’s restaurant.
    “Don’t you understand that people sleep seven nights a week?” Tunick asked Johnnie Brown’s owner Dick Nicholas. “This is an abridgment of my right to live in Delray Beach.”
    Nicholas responded by asking city officials to create a downtown entertainment district where his restaurant, Paddy McGee’s and Bru’s Room, wouldn’t have to abide by the noise law.
    “You either have live music or not. If you’re going to allow it, you can’t suppress it,” Nicholas argued. “One or two people are intruding on my rights.”
    The most passionate speaker at the hearing was Beach Drive resident Anita Casey, who alerted the city to the potential consequences of too much noise.
    “We’re destroying Delray,” she warned. “What are we bringing in with all this noise? Drugs, the mob and prostitution.”                           

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