Prairie Street Live / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
FAYETTEVILLE — Guests at Prairie Street Live can now enjoy live music for one extra hour on Thursdays after a decision this week by the City Council.
The council on Tuesday voted 5-3 to allow the south Fayetteville venue on Prairie Street to extend its amplified music from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays.
The venue’s outdoor music permit only allows music on two days per week. Shows on Fridays or Saturdays must end at 11 p.m. and the cutoff time for weekday shows, except Thursdays, is 9 p.m.
Prairie Street Live had previously been required to renew its permit annually through the Planning Commission, but last month, venue owner April Lee requested a change that would extend the permit indefinitely. Lee also asked for an extra day of live music each week, and to extend Thursday hours until 10 p.m.
The venue’s permit states that if it receives three noise ordinance violations, it must go back to the commission for a formal review. The venue has so far had two violations, one in November and another in December.
The commission agreed to end the requirement for annual permit renewals, but did not grant either of the requests for extra time.
Lee appealed the decision to the City Council, who first discussed the issue on April 5.
At the time, council members seemed torn on what to do.
Council member Mark Kinion, who co-sponsored the appeal on behalf of the venue, said Prairie Street Live is a unique venue that expands upon the growing cultural arts corridor. He said he wants to see the business succeed, but he also knows that noise has been a problem.
Lee said she’d hoped to secure about $20,000 in contracts for performance using the extra hour on Thursdays, and the plan was to put some of those profits toward noise reduction to try and mitigate the sound issues.
Council member Mike Wiederkehr said the city has a great track record of supporting the arts and also supporting quality of life for neighbors. He said the biggest conflict in the decision is that Lee was making a promise to try and solve the noise issues, but only if the council allows extra time for live music that will generate enough revenue to pay for a solution.
The council tabled the decision for two weeks, and met again Tuesday.
Lee told the council she’s very serious about complying with the noise ordinance and discussed some infrastructure changes that have already been implemented or are in the works, including new sound curtains on the stage and trees she’s started planting around the property. She also purchased a new, more accurate decibel meter and said she’d be monitoring the sound herself instead of using a third-party promoter. Lee reiterated that without the extra hour on Thursdays, she will lose significant business.
One person who spoke Tuesday said he lives in a condo building near Prairie Street and the amplified music is a big problem for him. He said he’s added soundproofing to his windows to try and keep the sound out, but it’s still loud enough to hear from inside his home.
Council member Teresa Turk said the complaints from the neighbors can’t be overlooked.
“I think we need to think about who got there first,” said Turk. “I love outdoor music, but we need to also be sensitive to our community and the people who are there that invested a lot in their livelihood before there was outdoor music.”
Kinion said after listening to Lee, he thinks she has stepped forward after her two violations in an attempt to resolve the problem. Besides, he said if Lee receives one more violation, then she could lose her permit altogether.
Council members Harvey, Jones, Kinion, Bunch and Hertzberg voted in favor of the extra hour on Thursdays. Council members Wiederkehr, Scroggin and Turk voted against. None of the council members made a motion to allow the extra day, so the venue is still limited to amplified music only two days per week.