City representatives discuss music venue regulations at CitySpace Tuesday

The City has invited business owners, members of the music community and the otherwise interested to a conversation about imminent zoning changes that could affect music citywide. The meeting is at CitySpace, Tuesday at 2:15pm.

In meetings so far, the music community’s argument that live music is already adequately regulated has gone head-to-head with conventional zoning wisdom. While members of the music community have suggested the city scrap permits altogether and enforce the existing noise limit, Tolbert said at a follow-up meeting at Random Row in late January, “From a zoning standpoint, I would argue that a restaurant has a different use from a venue that has music going on from midnight or later.” The city regularly receives noise complaints about the latter.

Tomorrow’s meeting is the third installment of engagements that started when members of the music community visited a City Council meeting to oppose an item on Council’s consent agenda that would require restaurants hosting music without special use permits to get a permit by March 1, and others without the ability to get permits—including The Garage and C’ville Coffee—to cease hosting music.

But at later Random Row meeting, Tolbert said that putting the rules as they are before the Council was the first step toward changing them. “We have to either change the code or enforce it,” he said. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible—maintaining some degree of control—for everybody to operate and keep playing music. I don’t want to put anybody out of business.”

New alternatives on the table include a provisional use permit, under which businesses that violate the law would lose the ability to host music for a set period of time. Such permits could potentially be offered for free until July, at which point new businesses looking to host music would have to purchase them.

Whatever happens, new changes have to pass through the Planning Commission and City Council before taking effect.

“If it weren’t for the lowest common denominator, we wouldn’t have to have zoning,” Tolbert said at Random Row.

Somewhere, Jim Baldi is laughing.

How should the City regulate live music?

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