After months of relative quiet, noise complaints have been multiplying again in the Village.
Siesta Key Village Association President Russell Matthes brought up the matter during his group’s regular meeting this month. John Lally, the county’s code enforcement officer on the Key, discussed it in greater detail during Siesta Key Association’s Nov. 3 meeting.
One focus of the problem has been Blasé Café, located at 5251 Ocean Blvd.
An Oct. 22 email from Capt. Paul Richard of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to Peter van Roekens, a member of the SKA board, along with county officials, said officers had contacted Rahi Nahme at Blasé Café and reconfirmed his establishment is prohibited from hosting live music after 10 p.m. Richard added that because staff at the restaurant had been warned once within the past 90 days about noise past 10 p.m., another violation would result in a citation.
Matthes said during the Nov. 1 SKVA meeting that he and Cheryl Gaddie, president of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, had talked Oct. 31 with Nahme.
“Like anything else, there are two sides to every story,” Matthes said. “He was very defensive."
“(However) once we had our conversation, he totally understood,” Matthes said. “He’s definitely responsive.”
Lally told the SKA board that Nahme had been unaware of the special exception process, which allows a Village establishment to have live music past 10 p.m. Blasé Café, Lally pointed out, does not have one of those exceptions.
“I had about a half-hour meeting with him,” Lally added, during which time he explained the appropriate part of the zoning code. “I wanted to make sure he fully understood the rules.”
A restaurant in the Village can apply four times a year for a temporary use permit that would allow it to have live music later in the night. Lally said as soon as he could find the time, he planned to meet with each restaurant and bar owner in the Village to remind them about the TUP provisions.
At one point, Lally continued, a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputy who worked regularly in the Village had established a good rapport with managers and owners at most of the restaurants.
“He was one of my biggest helpers,” Lally said.
The deputy walked the Village regularly with a sound meter and talked with staff in establishments where the noise exceeded the code limits, Lally said.
“But he’s not out here (anymore), and we’ve had a constant string of new deputies,” he said.
Moreover, Lally said, the existing special exceptions for a few Village properties are written poorly.
“I’m trying to light some fires and get the special exceptions changed,” he said. “We’re trying to get a noise level that’s enforceable for all noise.
“I want to get an established 75 decibels (as the upper limit on the noise level),” he said. “I think 75 is a good level to measure.”
Deputies would utilize decibel readers to monitor the noise levels. After being warned once, if a club owner still has not lowered the establishment’s volume after 15 minutes, the zoning code would allow the deputy to write a $250 citation, Lally said. If the music still remained above the 75-decibel level, he said, the deputy could return after another 15 minutes and write a $500 citation.
“He could keep doing that the rest of the night until they tone it down,” Lally said.
Lally added that Sgt. Scott Osborne, who leads the community policing station in the Village, had sent an email to all the Key deputies listing the necessary information regarding establishments with the special exceptions.
“Hopefully, we’ll get this under control,” Lally said.
Part of the reason the issue had arisen again, Lally said, was the fact that a number of the Village establishments had new managers.