City officials said they responded differently to four recent outdoor music permit requests from taverns because circumstances were different in each case.
“We’ve talked about checklists in the past, and that would be great, but every single situation is completely different,” said Barry Badertscher, chairman of the Alcohol License Advisory Committee.
Some decisions are easy. Others are not, he said.
The committee recently recommended to severely restrict the outdoor music license for Hammy’s Roadside Bar, 2131 Center Ave.
After receiving a petition signed by 25 neighbors concerned about noise, the Janesville City Council followed the committee’s recommendation. The council restricted Hammy’s permit from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every other weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
The committee recommended granting outdoor music permit requests for Bodacious Olive, 119 N. Main St., and HHFFRRRGGH Inn, 731 S. Wuthering Hills Drive. The council recently approved both.
The committee recommended rejecting local restaurant operator Ed Quaerna’s music permit request for Rooster’s Barrel and Wagon Works, the tavern he wants to open at 2100 E. Milwaukee St. The live music would be only a few yards from residents’ backyards.
Thirteen Janesville bars have outdoor music permits. So far there have been six complaints—three against Hammy’s; two against Down the Street, 965 S. Jackson St.; and one against Bodacious Brew, said city clerk-treasurer Dave Godek.
Outdoor music permits don’t come with decibel or noise level restrictions, speaker size or quantity restrictions, or limits on the number of performers. Instead, it’s up to business owners to use common sense and discretion.
“It’s not a license to be a jerk. You still have to be a good neighbor regardless,” Badertscher said.
Godek isn’t aware of an instance where the council rescinded a business’s outdoor music permit because of complaints or other reasons.
There’s no checklist the committee or council looks at when considering granting outdoor music permits. Instead, the committee considers requests on a case-by-case basis, Badertscher said.
The committee considers the business’s proximity to residential neighborhoods and neighbors’ concerns, among other factors, when considering granting an outdoor music license. Officials took all that and more into consideration when making the difficult decision to restrict Hammy’s permit, Badertscher said.
Neighbors complained trees removed from the green belt between them and the bar allowed music to easily travel to their homes. Council and committee member Paul Williams visited the neighborhood and said the music could be heard when sitting in the neighbors’ driveways, which faced away from Hammy’s.
“It’s quite a ways, but sound travels, especially bass,” Williams said.
After the council’s decision, Hammy’s Roadside Bar representatives requested an amendment to the permit to allow for music on weekday holidays. The committee recommended against it, and representatives withdrew the request.
The decisions were easy to grant permits to Bodacious Olive and HHFFRRRGGH Inn, Badertscher said.
Bodacious Olive was granted a temporary outdoor music permit last year but never got a chance to use it until the spring. The city informed the owners the business it had to apply for a permanent permit, which it did.
The business is located downtown, which is an unofficial “entertainment district.” For downtowns to attract young people and be successful, they need entertainment, including music, Badertscher said.
“There’s not a successful downtown I know of that doesn’t have an entertainment part to it,” he said.
A few residents complained about the music, but the business owners are respectful of neighbors. The music Bodacious Olive hosts is quiet enough to talk over, Badertscher said.
HHFFRRRGGH Inn is nowhere near residential properties, so granting the request was a no-brainer, Badertscher said.
“That was an easy one. There’s no neighbors,” he said.
Rooster’s Barrel and Wagon Works is adjacent to residents’ backyards, so the committee immediately recommended against allowing an outdoor music permit, Badertscher said.
The Alcohol License Advisory Committee handles all alcohol-related businesses’ outdoor music permit requests. Others go through the recreation division and are typically for one-day events and festivals in public parks and streets, Godek said.