Minneapolis business owners are making noise over the City Council’s efforts to keep neighborhood bars quiet at night.
Ward 10 Councilwoman Meg Tuthill’s proposed changes would halt amplified noise on patios after 10 p.m. and require bar owners to set a capacity limit on their outdoor patios. Bars in downtown Minneapolis would be exempt from the changes.
Bar and restaurant owners packed into the council chambers to protest the changes during a public hearing at a committee meeting on the ordinance Monday, while just a handful of residents came to support them.
About 30 people testified at the meeting before the changes were passed by the committee. The proposal will go before another committee June 16 before it goes to a full council vote the following day.
There was some initial outcry when Tuthill introduced the proposal in March. She sent it back for staff review, but few changes were made before it re-emerged Monday.
Sally’s Saloon and Eatery co-owner Tony Patterson said the restrictions unfairly target businesses outside of downtown.
“We are all for balance with ordinances for residential versus commercial,” Patterson said at the hearing. “But we feel that excluding Stadium Village and other thriving business districts outside and often adjacent to the downtown zone will tip the competitive balance … toward the downtown zone.”
Todd Klingel, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, echoed Patterson’s concern. He said part of a bar’s appeal was the music and ambiance it provides — taking it away would “make it harder for them.”
“Most people don’t even start until 10 at night,” Klingel said. “If you turn off the music, I do believe you’ll send people to bars where you haven’t turned off the music.”
Despite its location on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank, Nomad World Pub pays the downtown entertainment tax, owner Todd Smith said. The Nomad would still be subject to the changes.
Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon expressed concern that businesses outside of downtown were being unfairly punished while those downtown go unaffected.
“If we are going to have anything, I would like some kind of ordinance that’s citywide,” Gordon said.
He added that some of the vague language included in the ordinance makes him wary of its consequences.
Several bar owners said they worried about one piece of the proposal, which could give the city the ability to impose restrictions on any bar patio that it desires.
The voices of opposition at the hearing dwarfed those who support the proposal as a means of keeping their neighborhoods quiet at night.
Kris Prince, an Uptown resident, said that noise coming from a bar a mile away woke her up one night.
“Uptown is not just for partiers,” Prince said. “Families live here too.”
Tuthill, who represents the Uptown neighborhood, said her ordinance is trying to strike a “balance” between residents and bars. Some of her constituents have had to put their kids to bed with earplugs due to the noise, she said.
A few residents from the Cedar-Riverside area said that bocce ball players at the Nomad World Pub have woken them up at night.
But Gordon said he wasn’t sure how the ordinance changes would solve the problem of loud bars. Bar owners questioned how the city would monitor their businesses, and said that more enforcement of a few “bad apples” would be a better solution.
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