Music ordinance on hold, under review

City Council has kicked back a proposed entertainment ordinance, postponing the issue for two weeks, asking an ad hoc committee to make it more concise before holding a first reading on the proposed law Nov. 21.

The proposed law would allow businesses to play amplified music outdoors in areas of the central business district, Washington Boulevard and parts of Newberry. Those were areas selected by Mayor Gabriel J. Campana, who thinks the ordinance can improve nightlife and add economic opportunity for businesses with outdoor patios.

As owner of a restaurant that could benefit from such an ordinance, Councilwoman Liz Miele was troubled by its wording, particularly as it applied to establishments regulated by the state Liquor Control Board serving alcoholic beverages. “That wasn’t our intention,” Miele said.

The city Economic Revitalization Committee, on which Miele sits, forwarded it to council but with no recommendation.

“I think you need to define where it applies to the Liquor Control Board,” she said.

Miele said she sensed a potential conflict of interest regarding other businesses and outdoor events as it was written.

Councilman Jonathan Williamson said the proposed ordinance is promising and may be the start to a more vibrant community, but believed its wording needed work.

“It’s not there yet,” he said.

He saw problems in restricting times allotted for amplified music to between 5 and 11 p.m. when many businesses would benefit from playing it earlier in the day.

Enforcement would be by city police, but the document before council mentioned borough police.

“We’ve had this for a year and a half and it’s been to committee level,” said City Codes Administrator Joe Gerardi. “I didn’t hear back for a month, not one phone call, that there were problems,” he said. “The time to clean up the language was in the committee level, not at the council meeting. They didn’t do their due diligence. It’s not the zoning officer’s responsibility.”

“It’s unlikely we’re going to have outdoor music before spring,” Council President Bill Hall said.