Monday, June 11, 2012

Entertainment License Good For Danbury's Downtown.

At the last Main Street Partnership meeting, the City of Danbury presented the concept of an Entertainment License that would be implemented for the Central Business District (CBD) in Danbury.

"Entertainment" has been somewhat of a controversial issue in the downtown. In 2003, in response to activity that was impacting the ability of local restaurants to do business in the Dining and Entertainment District, the City Center Board asked that Danbury review it's regulations and amend them to curtail underage parties and 18 to party 21 to drink events and the related conduct (binge drinking, fights, etc) that was proliferating the district.

In response, the City adopted the "60-40" rule and a host of other initiatives that would limit the kind of activity that the City Center Board was concerned with.

Clubs in existence at the time of the adoption of the new regulations were grandfathered as a pre-existing and anyone who wished to open a new club would have to comply with the new regulations.

After trial and error, it has been determined that while the regulations cut down on the activity that was problematic, it also applied a one size fits all standard to prospective night club owners that stifled investment and business development in the Dining and Entertainment District.

With the adoption in our code of ordinances of the licensing procedure, city staff can make a determination of the efficacy of a business proposal, hold club owners accountable for their conduct, and eliminate cost prohibitive requirements like the "60 - 40" rule (a requirement that says any night club must have 60% of their floor space dedicated to food service, and only 40% can be dedicated to alcohol sales).

We modeled our proposed ordinance after cities and towns with vibrant night lives (San Francisco and Burlington VT respectfully) in an effort to provide both flexibility and control over activities.

Some examples:

  • Underage events can be held, but patrons must be separated from alcohol by a physical barrier.
  • 18 to party 21 to drink events are out.
  • Music must be contained within the establishment - no more music blasting it into the street.
  • Specific hours of operation must be followed - hours generally follow state statutes, but it is part of the entertainment license.
  • Security must be provided outside the establishment to ensure patrons do not disrupt other businesses or the neighborhood once they leave the premises.
  • Areas around the premises must be cleaned of litter on a daily basis.

These are just a few of the requirements to obtain an entertainment license. If the club owners agrees to these regulations, we will issue a license and the club owner will not have to comply with the more onerous restaurant regulations. The license will be good for 3 years.

With the old Mannequins on White Street is being renovated and looking for a fall opening, the new license procedure should help spur additional investment in the district without the burden of our current regulations.

We will continue to evaluate our regulations as we look to find the "sweet spot" for prospective club owners in the Dining and Entertainment District.

1 comment:

  1. This plan demonstrates that "Regulation" is not bad. What is bad is regulation which becomes stagnant or irrelevant. All ordnance and regulations should be reviewed periodically to ensure they still do what the citizens want and need.
    Thanks for being an administrator and having the courage to review and adapt.