Violin Music Pits Popular Steakhouse Against City Of Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-The soothing sounds of violin music are now the focus of a bizarre battle between the city of Huntsville and one of its most popular steakhouses.

The owner of Nick's Ristorante on Bailey Cove Road has been told that he cannot play live violin music inside his establishment because it violates a city ordinance on noise. Nick Mickus told WHNT News 19 he was stunned to learn of the regulation, especially since the violin music would not be any louder than the satellite radio that's already piped through the restaurant's speaker system.

The City of Huntsville Planning Commission blocked Mikus' request for a waiver earlier this year, and Thursday night city council members tabled a motion that would have changed the ordinance to allow live music.

Planning commission officials said Nick's Ristorante falls under the noise regulation since it borders a residential neighborhood. The neighbors who live a few hundred feet away told WHNT News 19 that they can't hear anything inside the restaurant, but for now the violin ban remains in effect.

"I think we've gone past common sense," said Mikus, who plans to file another waiver request if the ordinance is not changed. "A violin, an acoustic guitar, something soft. I didn't see anything that would be detrimental there...I think it's over control. The city maintains it wants to move forward. If you want to move forward you got to think forward."

City council members said they tabled Thursday night's vote so they can have more time to review the current ordinance and the possibility of exemptions for owners like Mikus. It was created ten years ago after people complained about loud noise coming from neighborhood bars and taverns. Planning commission officials said granting an exemption to Mikus under the current ordinance could make the city of Huntsville vulnerable to a lawsuit.

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