Huntsville Restaurant Owners: “Let The Music Play”

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)--Would you consider the seemingly soothing sounds of gentle strings offensive? A roving violinist playing softly while restaurant goers enjoy their meal sounds pretty nice to most, right? But the Huntsville City Planning Commission says when it comes to live music many neighborhood restaurants will have to remain unplugged--for now.

In 2002 Huntsville City banned live entertainment in neighborhood business districts after being flooded with noise complaints. In October the city planning commission shot down a proposal to allow live music.

Despite the unanimous ‘no’ vote, Huntsville City Council has scheduled a public hearing Thursday night to get feedback from residents and restaurant owners.

nicksThe proposed amendment grew out of a request by Nick's Ristorante on Bailey Cove Road to bring in a violinist. The owner's application for a special variance from the board of zoning adjustment earlier this year was turned down.

"Their position was if you do for one you've got to do for everybody--I'm not sure I agree with that,” says Huntsville city councilman John Olshefski, “ I think that's why they have a variance board to do exceptions to policy. So the owner’s next opponent was to go to do a change of city ordinance."

A new ordinance would permit concerts, live bands, karaoke disc jockeys and more with restrictions of no entertainment after 11 p.m. and nothing loud enough to be heard beyond restaurant walls.

Those rules sound reasonable, but Olshefski says the planning commission forecasts businesses getting an inch and taking a mile--or a few more hundred decibels.

"The commonsense thing, to me, would have been to just have done the variance and use each one accordingly,” says Olshefski, “and if you think one of these businesses has the ability to go out of control, then don't give it to them," the councilman said plainly.

Even if the council says no to music in neighborhood business districts, live entertainment will still be allowed downtown as well as in areas zoned highway business, light or heavy industry, research park commercial and commercial industrial park.

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