What can Jupiter, Harbourside learn from other cities?


Hundreds of concert-goers tote their lawn chairs to amphitheaters in Wellington, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Lake Worth for shows that draw few complaints from nearby residents.

Not at Harbourside Place in Jupiter.

Arguments, police calls, protests from residents, petitions from music supporters and a lawsuit by the developer against the town have marked the Harbourside amphitheater since it opened in December 2014. The latest skirmish resulted in Harbourside stopping all amphitheater events after the town said it needed a permit for each one.

“Jupiter is like a communist country,” charged Harbourside developer Nick Mastroianni.

Countered Town Attorney Tom Baird: “Mastroianni thinks he is above the law.”

The amphitheater — specifically whether the music is too loud and does Harbourside need a special permit to play music — is the focal point of the disputes. The lawsuit is now in mediation. .

Leaders from communities with amphitheaters and shopping center experts contacted by The Palm Beach Post had several suggestions for ways to lower the volume on the feud. Redesign, better equipment, sound-proofing and just plain compromise were some ideas.

Dollars and sense — people must work together

Managing music volume in an urban area requires working with residents and businesses, said Rafael Clemente, executive director of the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority.

Sound-measuring devices set to the maximum level were set in West Palm’s Meyer Amphitheater and inside condos in the nearby Strand and the Esplanade Grande. Music was played for the 8,000 residents surrounding events like SunFest and Clematis By Night, said Clemente.

“Building urban entertainment centers involves growing pains. A community has to be a hands-on caretaker to keep balance between the businesses and the residents,” Clemente said.

Unlike West Palm Beach, Jupiter officials did not meet with nearby residents about potential sound issues when Harbourside was being considered, Jupiter Town Manager Andy Lukasik said.

“In retrospect, that may have been a mistake. But even if we had talked to residents, there still could have been problems,” Lukasik said.

The growing pains in Jupiter are compounded because the residents of Waters Edge Estates, Jonathan’s Landing and other communities who complain about loud music were there before Harbourside Place was built. Lake Worth’s Bryant Park amphitheater was already there when most residents moved nearby. The city gets fewer complaints, City Manager Mike Bornstein said.

About one outdoor music event a month is held at the Lake Worth-owned amphitheater at Bryant Park, also on the Intracoastal Waterway. Reggae Fest, Florida Flow Fest, Chile Cook Off and Fourth of July are longtime events that residents are used to, said Bornstein.

“People know that for certain weekends of the year there is going to be a celebration. They might not like it, but they accept it,” said Bornstein.

The irony is that the covered amphitheater was not a part of the original Harbourside Place plan. When Harbourside developers asked for a waiver to allow smaller parking spaces in the complex’s two parking garages, they proposed the covered amphitheater. The town accepted the proposal.

Town center venues are the new malls

Town center developments such as Harbourside Place are growing in popularity as malls are fading nationwide. They connect back to the local community and give customers a reason to not just shop, but to socialize. That requires a civic component, which in the case of Harbourside, is the amphitheater, said John Crossman, president of Crossman & Company, which manages more than 300 shopping centers in six southeastern states.

“Retail is all about volume. The amphitheater brings the volume. The stores can’t succeed without it. The community is going to have to come to grips with it,” said Crossman.

Jupiter officials understood that Harbourside — and the amphitheater — would be that civic component when the project was approved, Mastroianni said.

“The bottom line is that the town and its attorney continue to harm Harbourside and its tenants by unlawfully trying to control the development,” said Mastroianni.

Jupiter Town Manager Lukasik counters that Harbourside has not complied with the conditions of the approval. Harbourside is required to have a special event permit for all outdoor music in the amphitheater. The town allowed the music without the permit for the first year, but now a special event permit is required, Lukasik said.

“Harbourside has deliberately misrepresented the town’s actions. The town is not prohibiting Harbourside from having music. Harbourside, like any other business that wants to host outdoor entertainment, has the ability to apply to the town to conduct musical events,” Lukasik said via e-mail.

Why Wellington’s amphitheater is quieter

In Wellington, it’s the location and design of the amphitheater that keeps the complaints down, says Joe Piconcelli, the village’s cultural program and facilities manager. The venue, built in 2010, draws up to 1,500 spectators for about 100 events held annually. All concerts must end by 10:30 p.m.

The Wellington amphitheater is closed in on three sides and the nearest resident lives about 2,000 feet away.

Harbourside’s amphitheater, however, is open on all four sides and the nearest resident is significantly closer.

Cloth curtains inside Wellington’s amphitheater absorb the bass and drums. When complaints started, Harbourside installed transparent plastic curtains behind the stage and carpets on the stage to reduce the sound.

“We get few complaints,” Piconcelli said. “It depends on the band and the weather. If the wind is blowing toward the residential area, or a Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin tribute band is playing, that’s when we may get some complaints.”

Delray Beach had its own music volume problems on Atlantic Avenue in 2011. More condos and townhouses were built above and near bars and restaurants. As the live-work-play neighborhood philosophy grew, so did the arguments.

We need music to attract customers, business people said. We need earplugs to sleep, groaned nearby residents.

Noise violations, up to $500 a day, were issued by the city. Brokers complained they could not sell and rent units. Residents protested. Lawsuits started.

In response, Delray Beach police formed the “Clean and Safe Unit,” which patrols regularly at night along Atlantic Avenue from I-95 east to the Atlantic ocean. Old School Square officials held meetings with local community groups to talk about volume and duration of music events in the amphitheater on city-owned property.

Noise complaints at the amphitheater are now “rare,” said Melissa Carter, director of marketing and public relations for Old School Square.

“Delray Beach is known for its outdoor events. Residents see them as a way to improve quality of life,” said Carter.

Up to about 1,200 spectators sit on the lawn at free Friday night concerts in the city-owned amphitheater at Old School Square and crowd businesses along Atlantic Avenue. Amphitheater events are also held during Garlic Fest, and The Delray Affair and during the Christmas season, when the city lights its giant tree, said Melissa Carter, Delray Beach director of marketing and and public relations.

That same type of compromise is essential for Harbourside Place and Jupiter, Lake Worth’s Bornstein said.

“The toothpaste is out of the tube. Harbourside is built. My experience in government is that at some point an equilibrium must be reached. The town, public and developer have to reach an understanding with each other,” Bornstein said.



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