Bel Rio’s Landlord Says “Knock It Off”

The saga of Jim Baldi’s noisy Belmont restaurant is ending not with a bang, but a whimper. Bel Rio’s landlord, Jeff Easter, has told them to be quiet, Rachana Dixit writes for the Daily Progress. Easter says that his lease limited them to jazz performances, not traditionally known for being loud, and Baldi’s move to having DJs spinning thumpy music just isn’t permitted. There’s a twist, too—Bel Rio is shut down, a sign on the door saying it’s only temporary, but it’s not clear why or when—or if—it’s reopening. Council is set to consider lowering the noise ordinance further on Monday, just to deal with Bel Rio, but I imagine they’ll put that off for a future meeting, since it’s entirely possible that this is the end of the matter. Until it comes up again in 5-10 years, the next time somebody opens a noisy venue in a residential area.

16 Responses to “Bel Rio’s Landlord Says “Knock It Off””


  • From what I understand, they’ve been hit with a rather thorough health department audit. Which I believe is the culinary version of nabbing Capone on tax evasion.

  • I pass by there most days and the sign just says vacation and kitchen re-model. Maybe menu re-model, too? One can hope.

  • […]it’s entirely possible that this is the end of the matter. Until it comes up again in 5-10 years, the next time somebody opens a noisy venue in a residential area.

    For what it’s worth- it’s not a “Strictly Residential” area. It’s mixed use and has historically had businesses operating on that cross section of streets.

    It’s what you’d call that New Urbanism model of mixed use residential/commercial. Only it (the area as a commercial area within walking distance of residential) existed before there was the “New Urbanism” movement.

    So I’d call this the failure of New Urbanism or “Mixed use- Commercial/residential model.

  • For what it’s worth- it’s not a “Strictly Residential” area.

    Well, no—I don’t know who you’re quoting there, because you’re the only person to call it that. :)

    It’s what you’d call that New Urbanism model of mixed use residential/commercial. Only it (the area as a commercial area within walking distance of residential) existed before there was the “New Urbanism” movement.

    So I’d call this the failure of New Urbanism or “Mixed use- Commercial/residential model.

    This means that New Urbanism is a failure the same way that the recession means that capitalism is a failure. New Urbanism doesn’t mean “put anything anywhere and let people sort it out.” Common sense dictates that you can’t have a DJ spinning discs at the wee hours of the morning two doors down from a home. The Charter of the New Urbanism speaks to this:

    The economic health and harmonious evolution of neighborhoods, districts, and corridors can be improved through graphic urban design codes that serve as predictable guides for change.

    That is, thought and planning are required for a “harmonious” neighborhood. Both elements were present here—this was OKd as a jazz club, after all—but the owner chose do go outside of the boundaries of what he was permitted to do and what’s appropriate for the neighborhood. Luckily, the landlord stepped in, and that’s the end of that.

  • Well, no—I don’t know who you’re quoting there, because you’re the only person to call it that. :)

    My bad… I tend to “quote” or “capitalize” words that I think are important. And to do so for “emphasis”.

    However the point I was trying to make… it’s not a *historically residential only* area and it never has been. As you would imply with your initial comment. There has always been some sort of businesses with in that area. Granted they were not businesses that generated the *after hours* noise that this one did. But a business district is what it is.

    This means that New Urbanism is a failure the same way that the recession means that capitalism is a failure.

    I’d be willing to say “yes capitalism is a failure.”

    (and here I am using the quotes to quote myself)

    Because G.W. felt it was necessary to bail out all the banks and financial institutions instead of letting *capitalism* take it’s natural course and allow all of those institutions to fail as they should have been allowed to fail. As they deserved to fail.

    Never read the *New Urbanism Charter* (something to add to my reading list) But what common sense may dictate and what actually happens can be two entirely different things altogether.

    Luckily, the landlord stepped in, and that’s the end of that.

    Luckily I’m not the landlord. Because all I’d care about is- can you pay my rent? And I’ve been in that situation (profitable business but unpopular with the neighbors).

  • However the point I was trying to make… it’s not a *historically residential only* area and it never has been. As you would imply with your initial comment.

    You might have inferred it, but I didn’t imply it. Historically, the place was probably a forest. :) An area can be residential and also be other things, but those other things must be limited as a result of its residential status. For instance, an area can be both residential and farmland, but it probably can’t be hog farming. It can be residential and industrial, but that industry probably can’t be ship-building. And, as we see here, it can be residential and commercial, but that commerce can’t include late-night dance clubs.

  • Wait a second here. Didn’t someone build a ship in a residential neighborhood in Crozet?

  • Anyone else notice that Baldi’s house on Elliott is For Sale? I’d say he’s thinking about moving on…

  • What I don’t understand is why it took so long to resolve this issue. Why was the argument allowed to degenerate into a “cool musicians vs uncool everybody else” one? Or a “pro-business vs anti-business” one?

    Why, despite the many articles and blog posts to the contrary, are people still claiming the residents who are complaining are people who moved there AFTER the club opened? Why are people having so much trouble understanding the difference between a nightclub and a restaurant (or cafe, or mini-mart, etc)?

  • You wrote:

    Until it comes up again in 5-10 years, the next time somebody opens a noisy venue in a residential area.

    That sentence suggests/implies/whatever that it is ONLY a residential area.

    *Historically* (for clarification- meaning at least during the span of my life- and not from the beginning of time) there’s always been some sort of business in that area. Granted not a night club- but still a business.

    For instance, an area can be both residential and farmland, but it probably can’t be hog farming.

    Actually unless the zoning specifies “No Hog Farming” it *can* be Hog Farming.

    Guy in Nelson County wanted to re-zone his land to put a Double Wide trailer on it. His neighbors (transplants) with nice new upscale single family homes protested and got his rezoning denied. Since the initial use was as Farmland. He put in a Hog Farm.

  • For instance, an area can be both residential and farmland, but it probably can’t be hog farming.

    Actually unless the zoning specifies “No Hog Farming” it *can* be Hog Farming.

    We’re not talking about what’s legal—we’re talking about what’s sensible. After all, we’ve seen that it’s legal to run a late-night club in Belmont, but that’s obviously a bad idea. :)

    Guy in Nelson County wanted to re-zone his land to put a Double Wide trailer on it. His neighbors (transplants) with nice new upscale single family homes protested and got his rezoning denied. Since the initial use was as Farmland. He put in a Hog Farm.

    Good for him! :) I think I’d like that guy.

  • We’re not talking about what’s legal—we’re talking about what’s sensible.

    Yeah sensible and legal often are two very different things.

  • Just Bob,

    The NCC district is actually quite small, and one street wide, with each side of the street abutting properties zoned R-2. In other words, the house behind The Local is zoned residential, not mixed use. In addition, there are homes that have always been homes which abut right against the business properties. The are really is primarily residential, but it’s also an area built around a district that was meant to serve pedestrians.

    Yet, it’s only in the last few years, when the city thought a new restaurant district would be ‘cool’ that we see a conflict.

    The building that housed Bel Rio was a bottling company, and people got along. Probably because the company didn’t blast out base music until 2 AM, and the employees didn’t come out and puke and urinate on their property.

    So people want something to limit that bad behavior.

    As first Jeff Easter, well, it’s all well and good to shut the barn door after the horse is gone. Bel Rio has been playing non-jazz since it opened 2 years ago, and the Easters didn’t want to stop. When the neighbors asked them about it, they would just smile and live in denial.

  • There’s an empty spot on the Planning Commission about to be filled. It’s high time that we speak our minds on who gets that spot. Is it going to be someone like Jason Pearson, who hides behind the veil of New Urbanism in order to promote an agenda of “Manhattan-like density” in Charlottesville? Or will it be someone who actually listens to the citizens when it’s time to decide how WE want our city to look and feel?

    Mixed use zoning– especially Neighborhood Mixed Use– is only as good (i.e. “sensible”) as the people administering and overseeing it.

    Speaking of which, the steep slopes argument has been going on for the past few months. Our former Mayor, Kay Slaughter, has been speaking on behalf of the Southern Environmental Legal Center. This is a key issue that will shape how our city is developed for years to come. Get involved, write your councilors and planning commissioners

  • And now the restaurant is closed, Baldi has split and no one knows his whereabouts(see the Hook).

  • I just saw the owner’s photo in The Hook’s story about Baldi’s disappearance, and I’m surprised to discover that I know the owner. Jim and I were nodding acquaintances a decade ago, when we both worked downtown. Coincidentally, we took a weekend-long motorcycle safety course together back around 2002. I’m having a tough time squaring him with the fellow who owns Bel Rio. I thought Jim was a really good guy—friendly, empathetic, intelligent. I never would have guessed that he’d do something like all this.

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