Pelican Sound, a 562-acre community in Estero, requested a two-part amendment, seeking the allowance of live outdoor entertainment on the deck of its river club and the construction of additional pickleball facilities along Williams Road, adjacent to its golf course maintenance facilities.
Pickleball surged by nearly 40% between 2019 and 2021 to 4.8 million players, becoming the country’s fastest growing sport, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.
Pelican Sound has about 850 active pickleball players, according to Pelican Sound General Manager Eric Long.
Pelican Sound will have specialized sound material abatement along the fencing of the facility, limiting the hours of play from 8 a.m. to dusk. It also has equipment restrictions for certain paddles to be used that are designed for green zones or quiet zones.
“What we’re finding is none of the residential homes to the north, to the south are being impacted by any decibel level that’s over the 66-decibel level limit,” said Ken Gallander, planning director at RWA Engineering.
Staff proposed that specialized acoustic material should be provided on all sides of the fencing and players should utilize equipment designated as “quiet” or “Green Zone” approved. In response, the applicant proposed specialized acoustic material should be provided on only the north and south sides of the fencing, as sound over the decibel level is only carried from the east and west, according to Pelican Sound’s noise analysis.
Noise concerns surrounding the pickleball facility seemed to be less of a concern because more residents expressed apprehension about the live outdoor entertainment.
Pelican Sound is and has been prohibited from playing live music, but is now requesting live outdoor entertainment from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The request is for one single artist or a duet with a small speaker system with minimal disruptions to others, as orientation of the music is to the southwest, toward the patrons at the facility, with outdoor seating and music shielded by the club structure and preserve area.
The results of the study for background ambient noise was approximately 47 decibels, and with the music it was still around 47 decibels. “What we found is with just ambient background noise and with the music, it’s a negligible difference with a single individual or the duet type of music,” Gallander said.
Board member Barry Jones expressed concern with the results of the study. “You can’t tell me you turn up the music and it cuts down the noise,” he said. “I’m an engineer and I don’t understand how that happens in any way, shape or form.”
Residents who live down the river, primarily in Estero River Heights, voiced issues with music and noise traveling from Pelican Sound to their homes.
“Sound travels extremely well across water,” Estero River Heights resident Randy Mote said. “The orientation of the river club creates an amphitheater type effect that sends the music west and southwest straight down the river.” Mote added that he and his wife have been hearing music travel down from Pelican Sound for the past several years, with other residents like Rob Brady echoing his experience with noise disruptions.
Brady has lived in Estero River Heights for about 20 years and spoke in opposition to the live outdoor entertainment.
“If nothing else, rollback the current code that allows them to have music, and have them put their music in the middle of their community to where it only affects their community,” he said.
Pelican Sound residents spoke in support of additional pickleball facilities and live outdoor entertainment, while still expressing sympathy for their neighbors.
“When I hear people say that we’re being disrespectful, it’s very troubling,” said Janet O’Hara, a member of Pelican Sound’s board of directors. “Pelican Sound wants very much to be good neighbors, good river neighbors and good neighbors to the rest of the village.”
Given that the pickleball facilities and live outdoor entertainment was a joint application, the Village’s land use attorney and planning board members decided to have a continuation of the item in two weeks, giving Pelican Sound time to address noise issues and make adjustments before a recommendation is made to council.