Prairie Street Live offers an additional hour of live music on Thursdays

Prairie Street Live / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Prairie Street Live guests can now enjoy an additional hour of live music on Thursdays following a decision by the Fayetteville City Council this week.

The council on Tuesday voted 5-3 to allow the South Fayetteville venue on Prairie Street to extend its boosted music on Thursdays from 9pm to 10pm.

The venue’s outdoor music permit allows music only two days per week. Shows on Fridays or Saturdays must end at 11pm and the cut-off time for shows on weekdays other than Thursdays is 9pm

Prairie Street Live was previously required to renew its permit annually through the Planning Commission, but last month venue owner April Lee requested an amendment that would extend the permit indefinitely. Lee also asked to have an extra day of live music each week and to extend Thursday hours to 10 p.m

The venue’s approval states that if there are three violations of the Noise Abatement Regulations, it must return to the Commission for formal review. The venue has had two breaches so far, one in November and one in December.

The Commission agreed to end the requirement for an annual renewal of the permit, but did not grant any of the renewal requests.

Lee appealed the decision to the city council, which first discussed the matter on April 5.

At the time, the council members seemed torn about what to do.

Councilor Mark Kinion, who co-sponsored the call on behalf of the venue, said Prairie Street Live is a unique venue that expands the growing cultural arts corridor. He said he wants to make the business a success, but he also knows that noise is an issue.

Lee said she was hoping to score about $20,000 in contracts for performances with the extra hour on Thursdays and the plan is to put some of those profits into noise reduction to try to mitigate the sound problems.

Councilor Mike Wiederkehr said the city has a great track record of supporting the arts and also supporting the quality of life for neighbors. He said the biggest conflict in the decision was that Lee had promised to try to resolve the noise issues, but only if the council allowed additional time for live music that would generate enough revenue to pay for a resolution .

The council tabled the decision for two weeks and met again on Tuesday.

Lee told the city council she takes noise ordinance compliance very seriously and discussed some infrastructure changes that have been implemented or are in the works, including new sound curtains on the stage and trees she has planted around the property. She also bought a new, more accurate decibel meter and said she would monitor the sound herself rather than using an outside promoter. Lee reiterated that without the extra hour Thursday, she would lose significant business.

A person speaking on Tuesday said he lives in a condominium building off Prairie Street and the boosted music is a big problem for him. He said he’s soundproofed his windows to try to keep the noise out, but it’s still loud enough to hear from his house.

Council member Teresa Turk said neighbors’ complaints were not to be ignored.

“I think we need to think about who got there first,” Turk said. “I love outdoor music, but we also have to be sensitive to our community and the people who live there and made a lot of investments in their livelihood before outdoor music existed.”

Kinion said after listening to Lee he believes she stepped up after her two violations to resolve the issue. Additionally, he said if Lee receives another violation, she could lose her permit altogether.

Councilors Harvey, Jones, Kinion, Bunch and Hertzberg voted for the extra hour Thursday. Council members Return, Scroggin, and Turk voted against. None of the council members asked to be granted the extra day, so the venue is still limited to amplified music only two days a week.

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