By Alisha McDarris
STUART -- The City of Stuart Commission's unanimous rejection of the proposed sound ordinance for the city of Stuart was met with cheers and applause at the commission meeting on Monday.
Before the public even got a chance to voice their opinions, Vice Mayor City Commission Kelli Glass Leighton made a motion to reject the ordinance with a recommendation to revise it and reconsider it at a later date.
Other commissioners seconded the motion but proceeded to listen to at least 30 individuals who signed up to share their thoughts and ideas about the ordinance.
The new proposed ordinance aimed to restrict the amount of all noise except vehicular noise to 65 decibels throughout the entire city of Stuart instead of just Historic Downtown 24 hours a day instead of the restricted hours currently in effect. Those points were of particular concern to area musicians, who often play at bars and restaurants in the city.
Acoustic music rarely falls under 65 decibels and, as one resident measured and then broadcast at the meeting, neither does the sailfish fountain downtown. It was measured at up to 82 decibels.
Dozens of music lovers filled city hall, pouring into the lobby when they could no longer fit in the chamber, most wearing black to show their disdain, some in shirts that read "No music, no life."
"Music is a part of who we are," said Stuart resident Janine Landolina when she took her turn at the microphone, begging commissioners to reconsider the proposal.
Other residents from Stuart, Palm City and Jensen Beach also made their recommendations regarding the hours and levels that music should be allowed to be played. Some cited the local businesses that would suffer if live music were not allowed to continue because it was too loud. Others commended Stuart for what a wonderful entertainment destination it had become and how they would hate to see that dissipate because of a lack of live music.
There were also a few individuals who supported the proposed ordinance. They, too, stated their case, referring to music they could hear from bars or restaurants down the road as noise and arguing that they have a right to enjoy silence in their homes.
Alissa Collins can usually hear the lively music from Terra Fermata from her backyard down the road, but she doesn't mind a bit. She said she and her family like to walk downtown to hear live music and have never felt inconvenienced by the sound coming from the local bar.
William Hess, owner of Coffee Bar Blue Door, said "Although music is a huge part of our lives, the ordinance would preclude societal events, too."
He explained that even the weekly story time where picture books are read to children in the café's courtyard would be too loud to escape the ordinance.
"It's not a community standard we can live with," City Commissioner Eula Clarke said.
Ordinance opponents were happy to hear it.
"That they would impose such a ludicrous decibel level of 65 is ridiculous," said Jade Pratt, a Jensen Beach resident and musician who showed up at the meeting with his baritone saxophone to signify his opposition. He came with a band of friends, each with their own instrument.
"Music knits people together and we're trying to symbolize that tonight with our instruments," said Makaila Stierlin of Palm City who carried a guitar.
The ordinance will be revised and then presented again for approval, but for now, many music lovers are glad the sounds that bring melody and harmony to the community are safe.