Business owners who recently applied for a special use permit that would allow outdoor amplified entertainment will have to wait a little bit longer.
On Tuesday, City Councilors delayed five evidentiary hearings for special use permits that would let businesses play live or recorded music outside. The delay will allow the Law and Public Safety Committee to work with downtown advocates, businesses and residents to come up with a better application policy.
Although noise is a point of contention between businesses and residents, the evidentiary hearing itself is also prompting complaints from both groups.
“The residents weren’t happy because it was an evidentiary hearing,” said Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin at last week’s Law and Public Safety Committee meeting. “The merchants weren’t happy because it automatically pitted them against residents.”
Evidentiary hearings are quasi-judicial hearings, which turns the City Council into a judicial body. There are lawyers, evidence and witness testimony associated with it. Councilors are not allowed to speak with residents or business owners prior to the hearing and can’t take thoughts and feelings into consideration, only evidence submitted for the hearing.
City Attorney Thomas McCormick said Tuesday the goal is to come up with a policy that makes the permit something that can be done administratively rather than in front of a judicial body.
The applications have been delayed 90 days while the committee works out the new policy.