Bar owners oppose new patio rules

  • Article by: TOM HORGEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 7, 2011 - 2:24 PM

A proposed Minneapolis ordinance aims to reduce noise by tightening regulations on bars, restaurants with outdoor seating.

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Justin Hamblen, left, and Chris Mellgren chatted over a drink early Monday evening at the rooftop Sky Bar of the Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group in Minneapolis.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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More than 100 bar and restaurant owners descended on Minneapolis City Hall Monday to oppose an ordinance that would bring new restrictions to their patios and rooftops.

A smaller number of residents spoke in support of reducing noise in neighborhoods.

The two sides squared off at a public hearing about the ordinance, proposed by Council Member Meg Tuthill, that seeks to curtail the amount of late-night noise from bars and restaurants in residential areas.

If passed by the full council this month, the proposal would allow for more restrictive outdoor capacity limits and the banning of outdoor amplified music after 10 p.m. It would also give the city the ability to impose sanctions on noncompliant establishments.

Downtown Minneapolis would be exempt from the new restrictions.

Tuthill, whose 10th Ward includes the Uptown and Lyndale-Lake neighborhoods, said late-night bar noise is a top issue for her constituents.

"Residents are e-mailing me saying they are putting their children to bed with earplugs and a fan running in the summer," she said. "You tell me if that's acceptable."

Kris Prince of south Minneapolis said that music woke her up on a recent night and she got dressed and walked "a mile" before discovering its source.

"It has become intolerable for families," Prince said.

Several bar owners said the new capacity rules would allow smokers and those waiting for tables to be counted as part of a restaurant's outdoor occupancy. Several owners said they would begin asking customers to go smoke farther down the sidewalk for fear of being fined.

Randy Stanley of Parasole Holdings, which owns several restaurants in Uptown, called parts of the ordinance "Draconian," adding, "If the ordinance is intended to resolve issues with a few bad apples, let's deal with the bad apples."

"We're disappointed," Stanley said. "If they have a vision of a thriving, growing urban area, then the ordinance flies in the face of that."

Kim Bartmann, who owns the Red Stag Supperclub and Barbette, said she plans to continue to rally opponents.

"This is not a solution," she said. "It's a solution looking for a problem."

Bartmann and others said the existing Minneapolis noise ordinance is sufficient to deal with problems.

Tuthill said she wasn't surprised by the large turnout of bar and restaurant owners, and was unfazed by their opposition, saying "those are always the people that come out.

"We'll wait and see where the chips fall," she said. "I'm hopeful it will pass."

The Energy and Environment Committee sent the ordinance to the full council, which will discuss it June 16. Changes could be made at that time, and the council could vote the following day.

Tom Horgen • 612-673-7909

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