GLENWOOD — Pam Gardner is disturbed to the point of distraction every time a bell rings.
Gardner’s property backs up to Mother of Good Shepherd Monastery, where the monks ring a pair of bells five times a day as a call to prayer. Residents of the rural area west of DeLand complain that the bells ring incessantly and so loudly that their windows rattle.
"This has really affected our lives," said Gardner, who lives on Ben Franklin Drive. "When I hear the call to prayer, I pray for those bells to stop."
Gardner is one of 31 residents who showed up at a Glenwood Civic Association meeting Monday to try to find a way to silence the bells.
The controversy began when three monks moved their monastery from Peaks Island, Maine, to an 11-acre tract at 2075 Mercers Fernery Road in June 2004. Two bells, one of which weighs 4,000 pounds, are rung at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Volusia County code-enforcement officers cited the monastery for running a religious establishment in a residential neighborhood. The monks stopped ringing the bells and hired an attorney, who convinced county officials that federal law required them to allow the monastery in the neighborhood. The bells resumed in December.
Residents who live near the monastery complain that the bells toll anywhere from 60 to 300 peals each ringing. Ross Kasparek knows precisely because he keeps a list posted in his garage counting the number of rings.
"If I blow my horn or play loud music, there’s an ordinance to stop me," said Kasparek, who lives across the street from the monastery. "But they are really obstinate; they won’t stop."
Some residents said they look forward to the bell ringing.
Shirley Ann Sodaro, who lives on Trinidad Street, said she finds the bells "pleasant."
"I can’t imagine why they’re making such a big deal about this," she said. [Source]