Nightclub prohibitions to be discussed

WESTFIELD – The Planning Board will hear details of a zoning code amendment which will prohibit certain business activity, including night clubs, in the city’s CORE district at a public hearing slated for tonight.
The 7 p.m. hearing will be conducted in the City Council chambers of City Hall.
The amendment is being sponsored by Ward 2 City Councilor James E. Brown Jr., who represents a substantial segment of the downtown and who is seeking to add a list of prohibited commercial activities in the CORE district to the zoning regulations.
The amendment also defines a night club as a “commercial establishment operating after 10:30 p.m., having a maximum permitted occupancy load of more than 125 persons where such load exceeds the number of seats provided by more than a third, and which typically provides for food and/or drink consumption, dancing facilities for patrons, and the performance of live or recorded music at a sound level generally incompatible with normal conversation or found to be objectionable beyond the property line or from within any residential dwelling unit or hotel guest room.”
The proposed amendment will prohibit other commercial ventures in the CORE district including: tattoo parlors, body piercing studios, smoking lounges and hookah bars, pawn shops, check cashing establishments, adult theaters, adult bookstores, and adult dance club, casinos and video gaming establishments, automatic self-serve laundries, and overnight parking or storage of more than two trucks or commercial vehicles on any lot, either as a principal or accessory use.
Brown said recently that he is seeking to define allowed and prohibited uses as the revitalization of the downtown moves forward and interest in commercial development continues to increase.
“We don’t want to be Springfield, to have those types of clubs that occupy three floors of a building,” Brown said.
Brown said that the ordinance amendment is intended to address public health and safety, pedestrian and traffic congestion, objectionable noise and generation of fumes or any incompatible activity that might have an adverse impact on neighboring residents and businesses in the CORE district.
Ward 3 City Councilor Ann Callahan, who represents the other half of the CORE district, said that the proposed amendment will help protect downtown residents and businesses.
“It looks like it makes sense,” Callahan said. “It’s something I want to discuss more with Councilor Brown.”
The City Council is also slated to conduct a public hearing at its Aug. 16 session. The Planning Board will provide the City Council with a positive or negative recommendation and may also recommend changes to the language of the proposed zoning amendment.

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