The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

September 11, 2012

Lewisburg bar put on hold

LEWISBURG — To allow the applicant time to address noise concerns, the city’s planning commission tabled a request to permit outdoor consumption at a proposed bar on Randolph Street.

General contractor Tom Mansheim described the project as a combination bar and restaurant, with the interior space of 4,000 square feet split between the two uses, and exterior decks — part of which will be covered — plus an “urban garden” area comprising another 3,000 square feet.

The new business would occupy the former Legg’s Cleaners building at the intersection of East Randolph and Lafayette streets. Hours of operation would be from “before lunch to whenever bars typically close — probably 1 a.m.,” Mansheim estimated.

During the planning commission’s discussion about the request from owner Colin Rose for a conditional use permit to allow food and drink to be consumed in the property’s extensive outdoor space, Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester raised questions about noise. He asked Mansheim if the exterior space would be used for live music performances or would otherwise be equipped with a speaker system.

The contractor responded that, while plans call for bands to perform inside the bar, no live performances would take place on the deck or garden. He added, however, that “there will probably be some speakers on the decks.”

Mansheim assured the planners, “This is going to be an upscale establishment.”

The mayor expressed concern about the noise amplification offered by the “natural amphitheater” in which the property is situated, just behind the Fort Savannah Inn.

While the immediately adjacent properties are all commercial, only a few doors away are a number of private residences.

Planning commission President Mark Etten noted the city previously issued outdoor consumption permits to three other establishments — Del Sol, Bella Casa and Robert’s — none of which has an outdoor space in close proximity to residential properties.

Etten also pointed out that while both Stella’s and The Livery — two of downtown’s newer dining establishments — have areas designated for outdoor consumption, neither has obtained a permit from the city for such activity. He suggested that Zoning Officer Ken Tubbs notify those businesses of the need for permits.

As for the proposed bar/restaurant on Randolph, Etten said he was “still not satisfied that noise (from the establishment) won’t have a negative impact” on nearby residential areas.

Planner Dr. Michael Adelman also expressed reservations about the extensive outdoor party space, which initially was represented as having a capacity of up to 125 people.

“One-hundred and twenty-five people can make a lot of noise, even without speakers,” Adelman said, noting that with the addition of music and alcohol, the overall volume could be expected to rise.

Mansheim immediately corrected his earlier statement about the capacity of the decks, saying 125 people would be the capacity of the entire establishment, inside and out.

Manchester noted, “We need to count on the owner and the builder to come up with a design that addresses the noise issue.”

The vote to table the request for a conditional use permit until the commission’s Oct. 4 meeting was unanimous.

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