Monthly Archive for May, 2010

Bel Rio Angering Belmont Residents

The battle over the volume of music at Belmont’s Bel Rio restaurant continues, Rachana Dixit writes in today’s Daily Progress. City Council overhauled the noise ordinance a few months ago just to deal with Bel Rio, and city staff seem to be spending a lot of time on the matter, but a technical problem seems to be hampering the efforts: the fact that decibel meters have a hard time measuring the sort of deep, thumpy bass that can make life miserable for folks who live next to music-playing neighbors (though the maker of the meter they use disagrees). Neighbors on the formerly sleepy street are infuriated by the two-year-old restaurant’s behavior, saying that it’s really reduced their quality of life there.

We dealt with the same scenario back in the mid-nineties with the Jewish Mother, a restaurant on the Downtown Mall that featured noisy live music until very late at night, which was awfully frustrating for downtown residents. As with Bel Rio, the city had to consider proposed changes to a city-wide noise ordinance just to deal with the one rude restaurant owner. Luckily, the Jew Mom went out of business, and that was the end of that. When I lived on South Street in the mid-nineties, the South Street Brewery opened up next door, and my quiet apartment was rendered uninhabitable on Friday and Saturday nights, when they featured live music about twenty feet from my head until the wee hours of the morning. I moved out when my lease was up. I’ve got nothing but sympathy for Bel Rio’s neighbors.

RWSA Considering an Earthen Dam

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority is looking at building an earthen dam for Ragged Mountain Reservoir, Brian Wheeler writes for Charlottesville Tomorrow. It would be built downstream from the existing dam, but taller, allowing an extra 45 feet of water in the reservoir. This is instead of the prior plan, which called for a concrete dam. That would have cost between $70M and $100M; this new one would run between $29M and $37M. The RWSA has not yet determined if they’re going to build a dam, extend the existing one, dredge the reservoir, or do nothing at all.

No Charges for Driver in Cyclist Death

A city truck driver will not face charges in the death of a cyclist, Courteney Stuart reports in The Hook. A joint city/county/state police investigation found that witnesses were unanimous: victim Matthew King ran into the truck while the truck was making a right-hand turn, despite the driver’s use of the turn signal and low speed. King had been passing vehicles on the right immediately prior to the crash.

Last week a police officer stood in front of my office on McCormick Road—central grounds at UVA—and stopped every cyclist who rode by dangerously. He lectured each one about the importance of following traffic laws, handed each one a brochure explaining what those traffic laws are, and told them that they were going to start issuing tickets to cyclists this week. It appears that efforts to prevent another such death are underway.

Richmond Camera Must Remove Mural

Earlier this year, a sixteen students and two teachers from Tandem painted a large mural on the wall of Richmond Camera, on High Street next to Jak ‘n Jil. (You can see photos on the camera shop’s website.) But the business, despite having approached Tandem in the first place, never applied for any permits to cover one wall of their building in signage. So now the city has told them that the sign is illegal, Courteney Stuart writes in The Hook, and must be removed by the end of the month. The city spokesman points out that Richmond Camera can appeal their decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals, which may well give them permission to keep the sign, but it’s a step that they’ve got to take if they don’t intend to comply with the law.

It’s a great-looking mural that’s definitely more art than advertisement—here’s hoping the BZA lets it stay—but Richmond Camera deserves no sympathy for failing to get a permit. The Tandem kids, on the other hand, ought to be upset and disappointed if their work gets erased. The owner of Richmond Camera owed them better treatment than this. Now it’s up the city to make that right.

05/13 Update: A spokesman for the city tells me that Neighborhood Development Services figures that this mural is art, not signage, and thus that they have no say in whether it should be there. He points out, too, that the store owner has been very cooperative, but that he’s still got to pare down his three signs to the limit of two for an entrance corridor. The colorful mural will stay, everybody’s happy, the end.

Gyms Sue to Stop McIntire YMCA

Three local gyms have filed a lawsuit against the city and the county, CBS-19 reports. They accuse the two municipalities of providing a contract to the Young Men’s Christian Association for their planned McIntire Park facility without going through a bidding process, thus unlawfully permitting ACAC, Gold’s Gym, and Total Performance Sports & Fitness from having the opportunity to get the contract themselves. Charlottesville and Albemarle are giving the YMCA $3M and giving them the land, in exchange for which high school swim teams can use the facility and the YMCA agrees to provide reduced rates for some members. CBS-19 doesn’t say what sort of relief that the gyms are seeking in their lawsuit—perhaps nothing more than the stated open bidding process—but with the well-heeled ACAC owner Phil Wendell behind this, these gyms may give Charlottesville and Albemarle a run for their money.