They came, they met, they agreed.
Barriers broke down on a Sunday afternoon, as members of an Orthodox Jewish community and the owner of a bar north of DeLand agreed to settle their differences over noise the neighbors said comes from the bar.
At the urging of Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower, the two sides met on the grounds of City Limits Taproom & Grille Nov. 6 to discuss the situation. Members of the Jewish community also had attended the Nov. 1 County Council meeting to voice their concerns.
“We heard all of you at the County Council meeting,” Brower told the Jewish neighbors. “Hopefully from this we will get some good suggestions.”
Goodwill prevailed. City Limits owner Pete Ferrentino said he wished such a meeting had happened before the matter was aired before the County Council.
“I would gladly solve any problem you have, within my means. I cannot change a growing business,” he said.
One of the neighbors stood up to say the noise could be heard in the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings. The “blasting music,” he said, can be heard across the four-lane U.S. Highway 17, and comes into the homes of the Orthodox residents.
The noise disturbs the believers on their Sabbath, which includes Friday night and Saturday morning.
“We are not walking around at night with a decibel meter. We hear it,” the neighbor said. “You have to care about the people around you.”
“I care 100 percent. That’s why we’re having this meeting,” Paula Outzen-Ferrentino, wife of the owner of City Limits, said. “And I would love to come in your house at 12 o’clock or whenever you’re telling me the decibels are so bad, because I know we follow the rules stated by the government, that at 11 o’clock we make sure our decibels are not as high, and so if you would like me to come to your house at 12 o’clock, I would gladly do that.”
“When it is there, you contact my cellphone, and I will make sure we lower it down,” Ferrentino said.
But the Orthodox Jewish neighbors cannot do that, they noted, because their faith forbids using telephones during the Sabbath.
The Jewish people are part of a group of about 70 Hassidic Jews — devout Orthodox believers — who left New York and New Jersey and moved to the rural area between DeLand and DeLeon Springs about four years ago.
In addition to the concerns about noise, other members of the community told of feeling in danger of being struck by cars as they walk from their homes to their house of worship for Sabbath services. Members of the Orthodox Jewish community, known as Servants of God, do not drive on the Sabbath.
The community had considered moving to Miami, one member said, but decided against doing so because of concerns about crime. Their search for a new place to call home ended in the more rural area between DeLand and DeLeon Springs.
“We really like this place. We really appreciate it, … with horses and cows,” a member of the group told the County Council. “
Ferrentino said he is not anti-Semitic, and he added his critics’ public complaints about his business are “frustrating.”
The dialogue almost broke down, as verbal volleying and cross-talk followed, with more people chiming in.
“We’re not going to solve this going back and forth,” Ferrentino said, acknowledging his neighbors’ abstinence from calling during holy hours. “So let’s come up with a manual way of contacting.”
After the conversation, Ferrentino made an offer.
“Here’s the solution. You want a sign right now. At 11 o’clock when the music ends, I will send my bouncer to your house every Friday and Saturday night to make sure that the music isn’t too loud. If you agree, it’s fine, and we’re good to go. Is it fair?” Ferrentino said.
“It’s fair, but I would like to ask that you bring in an engineer,” Fisher said.
That was almost a deal-breaker, as Ferrentino balked at such an extra expense.
“No, no. I’m not spending another dime. It’s hard enough in this time. You have a four-lane highway, a barrier coming to that home. I could go across there and do — moral of the story, I’m not spending [on] an engineer. I’m agreeing to send someone there to lower it on Friday and Saturday,” he said.
As other people tried to join in the dialogue, Brower had to intervene to keep the conversation between Ferrentino and Fisher on track
“Two people are talking, me and the rabbi. What is our solution?” Ferrentino said.
Fisher agreed to Ferrentino’s offer to communicate noise complaints on weekend nights to one of his bouncers. Ferrentino also said he makes certain the noise at City Limits does not exceed the restrictions in the county’s noise ordinance, which, he said, requires the volume to be no greater than 60 decibels after 11 p.m.
Even before the Sunday meeting, Ferentino had said Volusia County sheriff’s deputies had sometimes come to City Limits in response to noise complaints, but he added he had never been given a citation for violations.
When someone mentioned extra noise from cars leaving the bar, he promised to deal with that problem.
“I’ll put in a sign, ‘Don’t spin out,’” Ferrentino said.
That said and done, Ferrentino and Fisher shook hands and began talking as friends.
“We have a start, and we’ll go from there,” Ferrentino said.
“It’s a beginning,” Brower said after the meeting, pleased with the courtesy and civility he had seen.
“I want them to be happy,”: Outzen-Ferrentino said, regarding her neighbors.
An interesting sidelight of the meeting was that two other County Council members, Vice Chair Barb Girtman and Bille Wheeler, also attended. Both Girtman and Wheeler had extra cause for celebration, as they both said Nov. 6 was their birthday.