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Harbourside’s outdoor music showdown with Jupiter goes to federal court

A federal court face-off between Harbourside Place and the town of Jupiter over the town’s outdoor music requirements is Sept. 15.

Filed against Jupiter by Harbourside Place, the 34-page lawsuit filed Jan. 5 charges the town is in violation of the first and 14th amendments of the Constitution.

“We want our constitutional rights recognized to operate our development for what the town approved it for — an outdoor entertainment venue,” Harbourside Place attorney Mitchell Berger said.

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Jupiter officials counter that the $150 million waterfront entertainment center’s amphitheatre must comply with the same rules as other outdoor music venues in Jupiter.

Harbourside is required to have a special event permit to play music through the amplification system. To be allowed to play outdoor music without a special event permit, Harbourside Place needs an outdoor venue designation approved by the town council.

The town has not approved that designation, according to Jupiter records.

The case originally was filed by Harbourside Place in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. Jupiter moved to file the case in federal court. The injunction hearing is planned before U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra.

“Federal courts are a better forum to consider constitutional issues,” Jupiter Town Attorney Tom Baird told The Palm Beach Post.

When Harbourside opened in December 2014, up to five events a week were held at the center that developer Nick Mastroianni pledged would be “Jupiter’s new downtown.” Permits are now required for each event. Events are required to end at 10 p.m.

Three events are planned this weekend. The movie Toy Story is Friday night, a Beatles tribute band and car show Saturday night and live music Sunday.

The amphitheater has brought police calls, protests from residents, court-ordered mediation, arguments over fireworks, petitions from music supporters, complaints against the town from Harbourside businesses and the lawsuit since Harbourside Place opened.

Residents of Waters Edge Estates, a gated community located across the Intracoastal Waterway from Harbourside, and others living nearby have complained about excessive noise during outdoor concerts and other events.

Town officials have repeatedly measured the sound volume at the amphitheatre. Mastroianni was fined $16,500 in March, 2015 for music that the town said was too loud. On other occasions, town officials found the volume requirements were being met.

The latest clash was this summer when the town declined to issue a permit to allow fireworks at Harbourside Place on the Fourth of July. The permit was not approved because Harbourside did not meet town regulations for police and traffic, according to Jupiter records.

After the Jan. 5 lawsuit was filed, the two sides were ordered to mediation by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Edward Artau. The certified mediator appointed by the judge is Rodney Romano, the former mayor of Lake Worth. Both sides could not reach a compromise, resulting the in Sept. 15 injunction hearing.

A petition that garnered about 2,000 names was circulated in mid-2015 supporting music at the amphitheater.

Harbourside restaurant and retail owners have complained restrictions on music hurts their business.

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