Frank Tschida laid out a postcard on one of the high-top tables on the deck of the Motorworks Brewing beer garden, where decorative lights wrap massive tree trunks and sound equipment is strung through the leaves. The postcard advertises a brewery-suitable property in Hillsborough County. Tschida hasn’t negotiated on any of them yet, but when new properties suitable for housing Motorworks hit his mailbox, his interest is piqued.
“I go look at them,” Tschida said. “Wouldn’t you?”
Motorworks received $18,000 for job creation from 2012 to 2014 from Manatee County, and Tschida said he has invested approximately $5 million into the property. Still, he is tempted to move because of problems he contends are caused by a City of Bradenton noise ordinance.
As for the incentive package, the $18,000 doesn’t make much of a dent in Tschida’s payroll costs, he said.
“When you come down to it, it’s such a minimal number,” Tschida said. “I appreciate the number, but it nowhere comes close to what an employee costs.”
“It only comes in a five-year increment,” Tschida said. “And I’ve got to hire X amount of employees to get my $1,000 a guy. The point of it is, my payroll is $40,000 a month. So their $30,000 over five to six years; it’s for X amount of guys, it comes out to be about $1,000 a guy. If the guy is costing me $40,000, by the time I do taxes, unemployment, yadda yadda yadda, how far did that go? Not very far.”
Motorworks started with fewer than 10 employees, Tschida said, and now has close to 40.
But Tschida did make clear that Manatee County officials, the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp., the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and the Manatee Young Professionals “have been truly great advocates for us.”
“All their efforts are falling on dead ears,” he said.
The Manatee Chamber of Commerce conducted an online survey where, according to an email sent to Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh by Chamber of Commerce board chair Trudy Moon, more than 500 Chamber business members participated. Sixty-two of the businesses feel the cut-off time should be 11 p.m. or later, 84 percent feel the stop time on Friday and Saturday should be midnight or later, and 84 percent feel 80 decibels is a “more reasonable decibel level.”
Without change in noise ordinance, incentives not enough, owner says
On top of regular business expenses such as payroll and brewery operating costs, Tschida thinks he’s losing as much as $500,000 in revenue, because he can’t keep live entertainment on his stage past 10 p.m. The brewery isn’t “unsuccessful, but it could be so much more,” he said. When he could be out talking to bars and pubs about carrying Motorworks’ beers, he spends the time dealing with the noise ordinance issue, he said.
Without entertainment, Tschida said there’s no reason for people to stay and hang out at his bar and in the spacious beer garden built on the side of the brewery building. During the planning phase for opening Motorworks, he said, “somewhere along the line, there was a miscommunication.”
Tschida was under the impression that the ordinance allowed noise of a certain decibel level until 11 p.m.
Later, he learned differently.
The ordinance states amplified noise is not to exceed 65 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. At a Jan. 16, 2013, City of Bradenton Planning Commission meeting, the brewery’s then-director of marketing and public relations, Ann Altman, “stated that they plan a small blues/jazz venue inside the music pit and outdoors on the stage. Outdoor music will end at 10 p.m,” according to meeting minutes.
The City of Bradenton noise ordinance, No. 2868, was written to “preserve, protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare, and the peace and quiet of the inhabitants of the city,” according to the ordinance text.
Since the brewery opened in 2014 through Aug. 16, at least two Motorworks neighbors have made a combined 114 calls to the City of Bradenton Police Department, according to police records obtained by the Bradenton Herald. Three of the calls resulted in noise ordinance violation citations, according to City of Bradenton records. Motorworks also has been issued written warnings for noise ordinance violations. On some of the calls, the police found no noise ordinance violation.
On the night of the Dec. 11, 2015, citation, Denise Tschida, co-owner of Motorworks, told City of Bradenton Police Sgt. James Kaull that she had a special permit to play music past 10 p.m. According to the investigation report obtained from the City of Bradenton Police, Denise Tschida was unable to produce documentation for such a permit. She told Kaull, “You’re not gonna talk to me, like this, in my business,” according to the report. She also, according to the report, threatened to call “the TV stations, advised that she was going to call her attorney(s) and have them ‘deal’ with me,” and accused Sgt. Kaull of harassing her because she is a “white female.”
Eventually, Frank Tschida produced his identification in order for the City of Bradenton Police to issue him the Dec. 11, 2015, noise ordinance citation.
Frank Tschida is convinced one neighbor is making the majority of noise ordinance-complaint calls, but another neighbor told the Herald she’s had issues with noise coming from Motorworks, too.
Wanda Hodo has lived in her house on 10th Avenue West since the early 1990s, before the Village of the Arts or Motorworks arrived. She raised her daughters there and paid off the mortgage so she could live comfortably once her kids moved out. She didn’t know the place she called home would turn into an entertainment district, bringing added foot traffic, vehicle traffic and noise to her neighborhood.
The noise problems at Motorworks have abated of late, Hodo said, but she fears they’ll return once tourist season gets into full swing. The noise ordinance violations are the least of Hodo’s concerns now, though she said on “a couple of occasions they play it so loud I even heard it in my back bedroom.”
In the beginning, she said she called the police a few times when the noise bothered her, but eventually she gave up because she felt her concerns were not being addressed.
“I really have a problem with the people when they have the things with their animals and stuff,” Hodo said. “The people come over here and the dogs poop. Some of them pick it up and some of them don’t.”
Hodo said she sees people leave Motorworks’ beer garden to walk their dogs and let them do their business and then walk back to the brewery. She’s also struggled with Motorworks event guests parking in front of her house and at least partially blocking her driveway.
Viktoria Bridgeford and her husband Harold Reesee live in the house directly behind the Motorworks beer garden. Bridgeford said she believes she makes the most complaints because her house, where she operates an art studio, is the most affected and “blocks” the noise for the rest of the houses in the Village of the Arts. Bridgeford and Reesee said they’re not asking for anything but for Motorworks to consistently comply with the current noise ordinance. The two bought the house knowing Motorworks intended to open, but with the restriction of stopping live music at 10 p.m., Hodo said she also doesn’t want the current City of Bradenton noise ordinance to be changed.
“I would really like to stay here if they would stop the music,” Bridgeford said.
Future plans for Motorworks Brewing
Bridgeford and Reesee lived near an entertainment district, similar to the one the City of Bradenton is trying to create, when they lived in New Jersey, the couple said. They believe it’s possible for businesses and residences to coexist, but for it to happen, they’d like to see a strong sound barrier placed between the two. And Reesee would like to see more effort being made in fulfilling the entertainment district vision, if officials want to call it that.
“One bar doesn’t make it an entertainment district,” Reesee said.
Carl Callahan, city administrator, also believes an entertainment district can thrive next to residential neighborhoods and that the people living nearby may in fact enjoy having a selection of nightlife nearby.
“What we had is an existing ordinance that probably didn’t take into account a business with live music opening up,” Callahan said. “We used to have live music down by McKechnie Field but nobody lived there. You have all these issues a little when you have commercial work and residential butt up to each other.” That’s why, Callahan said, the city has tried to provide “zoning that allows for that transition.”
“And you would think the Village of the Arts is a pretty reasonable transition,” he said.
In Frank Tschida’s opinion, anyone who chooses to live next to an entertainment district should accept the potential effects.
“So as long as they carry that commercial tag to them, suck it up,” he said.
As for the future of Motorworks, Tschida is unsure. If he doesn’t see action on changing the City of Bradenton noise ordinance by the New Year, he said he’ll act on his plans to move out. And until Manatee County makes a final decision on its noise ordinance, Mayor Wayne Poston said in May that the City of Bradenton won’t, either.
“The county won’t make a decision on its noise ordinance for some time,” Poston said in May. “We have one in place and the county is still considering theirs. We’ll see if it works for us, but we always have the opportunity to opt out. We just don’t know what it will look like yet.”
Tschida said he originally didn’t want to open Motorworks in Bradenton, but at the time he was unable to find a suitable property in St. Petersburg.
“When I leave, every plant, every stick of fence, every piece of equipment, everything, everything conceivable I put in here is leaving with me and I’ll paint the building back white and they can stand here with a bum hotel one more time,” Tschida said.
Incentives at a glance: Motorworks Brewing
Location: 1014 9th St. W.
Incentive approved: 2011
Incentive amount: $30,000
Projected job growth: 30
Projected average wage: $35,700
Projected capital investment: $1.6 million
Actual capital investment: $5 million
Incentives paid: $18,000
Starting employment: Less than 10
Current employment: Approximately 40
Source: Karen Stewart, Manatee County Economic Development Program, Frank Tschida, Motorworks Brewing owner