Pelican Sound, a 562-acre community in Estero, applied for a two-part amendment seeking permission for live outdoor entertainment on the deck of its river club and the construction of additional pickleball facilities along Williams Road adjacent to golf course maintenance facilities.
Pickleball grew nearly 40% to 4.8 million players between 2019 and 2021, becoming the fastest growing sport in the country, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.
Pelican Sound has approximately 850 active pickleball players, according to Pelican Sound general manager Eric Long.
Pelican Sound will have special soundproofing along the perimeter of the facility, limiting play times from 8am to dusk. There are also equipment restrictions on specific paddles to be used that are designed for green zones or quiet zones.
“What we’re finding is that none of the north or south residences are affected by decibel levels above the 66 decibel limit,” said Ken Gallander, planning director at RWA Engineering.
The staff suggested that special acoustic material should be provided on all sides of the fence and players should use equipment approved as “quiet” or “green zone”. In response, the special acoustic material proposed by the applicant should only be placed on the north and south sides of the fence, since Pelican Sound’s noise analysis found that sound above the decibel level only travels from the east and west.
Noise concerns around the Pickleball facility appeared to be less of a concern as more local residents expressed concerns about the live outdoor entertainment.
Pelican Sound is and has been banned from playing live music but now requires live outdoor entertainment on Thursdays and Saturdays from 5pm to 9pm.
The request is for a single artist or a duet using a small speaker system with minimal disruption to others as the music’s orientation is southwest towards the facility’s guests, with outdoor seating and music screened by the club structure and nature reserve Area.
The result of the study for the ambient noise was around 47 decibels, with the music it was still around 47 decibels. “What we found is that only for background noise and music is there a negligible difference to a single person or the duet music,” Gallander said.
Board member Barry Jones expressed concern about the results of the study. “You can’t tell me you turn up the music and it deadens the noise,” he said. “I’m an engineer and I don’t understand how this happens in any way, shape or form.”
Local residents living downriver, mostly in Estero River Heights, have expressed problems with music and noise reaching their homes from Pelican Sound.
“Sound propagates extremely well over water,” said Randy Mote of Estero River Heights. “The orientation of the river club creates an amphitheater-like effect, sending the music west and southwest directly down the river.” Mote added that in recent years he and his wife have heard music coming down from Pelican Sound, with other residents liking Rob Brady repeated his experiences with noise interruptions.
Brady has lived in Estero River Heights for about 20 years and has spoken out against live outdoor entertainment.
“If nothing else, reset the current code that allows them to have music and let them put their music at the center of their community where it only affects their community,” he said.
Pelican Sound residents spoke out in favor of additional pickleball facilities and live outdoor entertainment, but still expressed sympathy for their neighbors.
“When I hear people say that we’re being disrespectful, it’s very disturbing,” said Pelican Sound Board Member Janet O’Hara. “Pelican Sound is passionate about being a good neighbor, a good river neighbor, and a good neighbor to the rest of the village.”
Since the pickleball facilities and live outdoor entertainment were a joint application, the land use attorney and Village planning committee members decided to have a follow-up article in two weeks to give Pelican Sound time to address noise issues address and make adjustments before a recommendation is made to the Council.