(WSVN) - A quiet Fort Lauderdale neighborhood is in the middle of a needed city project. The problem: it’s so noisy, it’s breaking the city’s noise ordinance.

But does the city have to follow its own laws? The answer from Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser might surprise you.

Progress is great, until it creates problems. Like sleepless nights and bleary eyes for Michael and Robin.

Michael Hughes: “Wake up tired, come home tired. It hasn’t been enjoyable around here for the last six months.”

Six months ago, progress moved in. A $26 million plan to eliminate flooding in this Fort Lauderdale neighborhood.

Alan Dodd: “Even when we have regular rains, there has been tremendous flooding in here, so this project is going to alleviate those to reduce the risk to houses, the risk to people.”

Here is progress’ problem: 40 feet from Michael and Robin’s bedroom window is a large pump, ironically called the “Silent Partner,” which is draining the water to allow the construction of the new pipeline.

Michael Hughes: “Extremely loud.”

Fort Lauderdale’s ordinance says the noise level cannot exceed 60 decibels outside in the daytime, 50 at night.

As you can see, it’s around the mid-80s.

Michael Hughes: “Monday through Friday, it’s on 24 hours a day.”

And in the bedroom…

Robin Richard: “I’m looking at between 50 and 55, and it should be lower than 45 during the day, and at night, lower than 35. The city is breaking their own code and not doing anything about it.”

But the city is trying. This is the fourth different pump brought in to try to lower the noise level.

Alan Dodd: “This is the quietest pump that is available that still provides the ability to move the volume of water that we have to move.”

When that wasn’t enough, Michael asked the city to move the pump further away from the houses. The city says this is where they have to pump the water to allow the construction to continue.

Michael Hughes: “We have our hurricane shutters down, as they requested, to try to keep it quieter in the house.”

When the shutters and earplugs didn’t quiet things, Michael asked if the contractor could turn off the pump at night.

Michael Hughes: “Response was, ‘No, it must stay on.'”

Alan Dodd: “It would take us six to seven hours to drain it down where we could continue work the next day, so we would never be able to finish the project if we limit it to just 12 hours a day.”

It was a quiet neighborhood.

Michael Hughes: “It’s not enjoyable right now.”

Until progress came roaring in.

Michael Hughes: “I’m annoyed, and I’m fed up with the City of Fort Lauderdale. Help me, Howard.”

Well, Howard, does the city have to follow their own laws?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Both sides have legal rights. The city does not have to follow its own laws, but the residents have a right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes. The legal solution? The city has to do everything in their power to protect the homeowner from excessive noise while still being allowed to finish a project that will make all of the residents’ lives better.”

And give Alan Dodd credit.

After we contacted Fort Lauderdale, he came out to explain the details of the project and to show us the city’s newest effort to quiet the neighborhood.

Alan Dodd: “You can see, in the last week, we put a second wall on. We have the one enclosure around the pump station, which has thick insulating foam all around it.”

Installing a muffler, plus a second wall, made a difference.

Here is the side away from the houses. Now walk around the generator towards Robin and Mike’s house.

Much quieter.

Robin Richard: “With this last barrier that they put, it’s definitely made a difference.”

The city has even better news for Robin. They told us they hope to be able to turn the pump off in about a month.

Robin Richard: “So we definitely are thankful for Channel 7 for doing that and having them come out and put a stop to it, which is great.”

Nice to help you out.

Now, this is a unique situation. It will be worth it when flooding is stopped, and hopefully, the neighborhood will be quiet like it used to be when the pump is turned off at the end of August.

Drained? We hear you. So don’t accept a watered down solution. Let us pump up your spirits.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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