by Michael Lowrey
Charlotte City Council is finally nearing final consideration of new zoning standards for bars and such. Such regulations are always arbitrary. That said, the proposed new arbitrary rules are likely somewhat better overall than the old arbitrary rules. A highlight per the UPoR:
Under current zoning regulations, any nightspot that doesn’t serve food – such as many of Charlotte’s local breweries – is categorized as a nightclub by the city. It requires them to be at least 400 feet away from homes, keeping them from expanding in popular areas such as NoDa and Elizabeth.
“The city pretty much requires that we leave the neighborhood,” [Chris Goulet, one of the managing partners of Birdsong Brewery] said, “or leave the city.”
An amendment before the Charlotte City Council aims to make finding a new location easier for craft brewers. It would set new standards for businesses such as family-friendly restaurants and taprooms that differ from those for noisier late-night establishments, such as nightclubs. That allows the calmer venues to expand into the heart of residential areas, while keeping nightclubs farther away.
Of course, rather than restrict where certain types of business can locate based upon whether they serve food for not, it would be much more logical to focus on the externalities caused by bars/restaurants that double as bars/taprooms/nightclubs.
Bonus thought: Any place along the light rail line or proposed street car line should be fair game for night clubs. After all, the supposed economic development model* is that all those creative types, which are claimed to be very key to the city’s future, like urban living and want to live in neighborhoods served by rail. They also very much like nightlife. Thus the city undermines its own future by restricting the location of such establishments in places like NoDa.
* In my professional opinion, Richard Florida’s theory of theory of the Creative Class is silly. However, if the city is going to explicitly or implicitly rely on the theory, it must also take to its logic conclusion.
Special bonus thought: The whole craft brewery thing is overdone. Is there a niche market for local breweries?> Sure. Can Charlotte really support 12 of them? Over the long run, probably not.