Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
A procedural error will require another vote on whether Prairie Street Live can host amplified music for one additional hour on Thursdays.
After a lengthy discussion and narrow vote at the April 19 City Council meeting, all members of the council, city staff, and media believed a decision had been made. However, the vote that was taken was simply to amend the appeal, which means the discussion will resume and a final vote must be taken at the council’s next meeting on May 3.
At question was whether to grant an appeal to allow Prairie Street Live to extend its amplified music from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, and to increase its allowance for live music from two days per week to three days per week.
During the discussion, council members were not in favor of the extra day per week, but were split on whether an extra hour on Thursdays was appropriate.
Under the venue’s existing outdoor music permit, live performances are only allowed twice per week. Shows on Fridays or Saturdays must end at 11 p.m. The cutoff time on all other nights 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 commission agreed to end the requirement for annual permit renewals, but did not grant either of the requests for extra time.
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.
Lee appealed the decision to the City Council, who discussed the issue during the April 5 and April 19 meetings. She 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.
The council eventually voted 5-3 in what it believed was the final decision on the extra hour of music.
Council members Harvey, Jones, Kinion, Bunch and Hertzberg voted in favor, while Wiederkehr, Scroggin and Turk voted against.
City Attorney Kit Williams later notified the council of the mistake and said another vote is required.
“I think we all thought this was resolved,” Williams told the council at last week’s agenda-setting session.
Williams said it wasn’t until the day after the meeting that City Clerk Kara Paxton discovered only one vote had been taken, which was to amend the appeal to allow the extra hour.
“I think we were all under the understanding that that was it, but that was an incorrect understanding,” Williams said. “So we need to put this back on unfinished business to have the final vote.”
Council member Sloan Scroggin, who originally voted against the extra hour, said he’s heard from some people who are worried that the 5-3 vote from April 19 might not be repeated on May 3, so he plans to switch his vote from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ in hopes of ensuring the original intended decision remains intact.
“There is some fear that we voted one way and we may change our mind, so I plan on voting for (the resolution) just in case we have a member who changes their vote at the next meeting,” said Scroggin. “I think it’s only fair that we stick with what we voted last time.”