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Summer patio noise a hot issue on a cold day for Minneapolis committee

On the coldest day of the winter, the hot topic was outdoor patio noise at a meeting of the Minneapolis City Council’s Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee. Members also got some bad news about potential cuts in the city’s animal control staff.

“The noise problem is two-pronged,” said Council Member Meg Tuthill, who sponsored the city’s patio noise control ordinance. “It keeps building the more people drink, and it comes back when the bars close.

Her ward abuts the Uptown area, where rooftop patio noise can be overwhelming on a summer evening.

But bar and restaurant owners are not waiting for summer before they seek new and expanded outdoor seating. And neighbors aren’t waiting to begin complaining about the potential for noise.

“We welcome new businesses to our neighborhood,” said Ron Reier, who lives downtown just across Hennepin Avenue from the now under-construction Butcher and Boar restaurant and bar, scheduled to open this spring.  The operation also plan to open a rooftop patio with seating for about 250 and offer music that would shut off at 10 p.m.

Reier brought pictures of his building, as viewed from the Butcher and Boar, that show a wall of apartments 21 stories high with six units on each floor facing the new bar.

“Our concern is the noise level,” said Reier.

Butcher and Boar representative Tim Rooney says: “We are investing a good deal of money in the bar. We’re good operators, we’re responsible operators.”

The committee, in response, asked staff to explore possible conditions that might be added to the establishment’s license that would allow the city with noise control.

Tao Natural Food expansion
The longtime organic dining and vitamin store on Hennepin Avenue is seeking to expand outdoor dining from 16 chairs to 48 by extending seating along 22nd Street. They are also seeking a wine and beer license. Their neighbors are not happy.

“We have grave concerns about outside seating,” said Julie Kenfield, an owner and occupant of an office building across the street with 22 businesses.She said the Tao Building and the one she’s in form a canyon that amplifies the patio noise. “If there were tables out there, I wonder how I could operate my business.”

Owner Katy Rozin said she was willing to modify her business plan to close the outside dining area at 10 p.m., an hour earlier than she first proposed.

She also doubts her clients will cause a problem: “Our crowd and our demographics and our passion is promoting wellness,” said Rozin.

Animal Care and Control Center
Shelter and field service hours at the city’s Animal Care and Control Center could be cut back, following a budget cut that will decrease staff by two full-time workers.

This was not good news to Council Member Gary Schiff, who also serves on the Ways and Means/Budget Committee.

“This was not included in the budget presentation,” said Schiff, who does not want the shelter closed two days a week or the fieldwork hours reduced.  ”Why are we only hearing about this today?”

Staff was asked to come back with “Plan B” for dealing with the budget cut.

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