City planner to propose plan that would make hosting music by-right

Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert hosted a discussion at CitySpace this afternoon where he put forth a plan that would allow most area businesses to continue hosting music as they do now.

The meeting was the third in a series of discussions that found Charlottesville’s music community arguing that the city should abolish slippery distinctions between music halls and restaurants, and remove the onerous process of applying for a special use permit to host music. Tolbert agreed today that restrictions on loudness, alcohol and capacity may already do enough.

But the meeting was the first in that series that Belmont business owners came out to argue against what they view as unfair restrictions on businesses in that neighborhood. Businesses there are subject to a 55dB noise restriction—about as loud as a spirited conversation.

Adam Frazier owns The Local, which hosts the regular open mic C’ville Songwriters and regular Wednesday acts. "If we were offending our neighbors on a regular basis—I’m a neighbor myself—I’d shut it down," he says. "It’s not good business practice." He and other Belmont business owners sought to portray the serial noise offenses of restaurateur-cum-fugitive Jim Baldi and his Bel Rio as isolated.

But Tolbert encouraged Belmont residents to keep those concerns separate from the plan he had largely drawn up prior to the discussion. He warned that reopening the Belmont noise talks might sink a resolution that is largely in line with the demands of the music community, offering to take up the two issues—what permits businesses need, and Belmont noise—separately.

The plan goes before the Planning Commission on March 8, and then before City Council in April.

Read about earlier meetings here.

Do existing noise, alcohol and capacity laws go far enough to regulate Charlottesville music?

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