Arlington, VA

Update at 2:10 p.m. on 5/14/11 — The County Board has put off final action on the Westover Beer Garden until Tuesday. It appears that the board is leaning toward approving some sort of live entertainment permit with additional restrictions.

Below are letters from the presidents of four civic associations in favor of a compromise that would allow the Westover Market’s popular beer garden to host live entertainment three days per week. The proposal is up for a vote by the County Board on Saturday.

County staffers are recommending against granting a live entertainment permit for the beer garden.

Dear Members of the County Board,

I am writing to you as the president of the Westover Village Civic Association. In the past few months, we have had several community meetings to discuss the Westover Beer Garden, allowing residents to voice their opinions about the garden and to seek common ground in addressing issues associated with it. During the last week of April, the civic association conducted a vote to determine community feelings. The residents of our civic association overwhelmingly voted to support the beer garden and its live music permit on the condition that it make a good faith effort to minimize noise disturbances to the immediate neighbors.

For most people in Westover and the neighboring civic associations, the Beer Garden is a treasured part of Westover life. It is an anchor for the community where neighbors young and old frequently gather on warm evenings to share a meal and listen to live music. Along with the new Westover Branch Library and Reed School, the beer garden has helped to strengthen a sense of community belonging and spur civic spirit. The garden has also revived the fortunes of the Westover Market, which faces stiff competition from the nearby Safeway and Harris Teeter without the niche advantage that the beer garden provides. The owners of the garden argue that live music brings in many customers and helps keep the business going.

The main problem with the garden is the noise that it has created in the past, disturbing the immediate neighbors who live directly behind it. These neighbors raise valid concerns that deserve to be addressed. Accordingly, it would be sensible to put a series of conditions on the beer garden live music permit. Based on the civic association vote, the majority of residents support limiting live music to 6 to 8 pm on Wednesdays and 6-10 pm on Friday and Saturday nights as a reasonable compromise. The sound levels should stay within existing county requirements. In order to enforce these conditions, the Beer Garden owners have committed themselves to investigate technical means to measure the sound at the fence of the nearest neighbor and record these measurements over time with data possibly posted to the Internet as a way of ensuring that the Beer Garden operates within legal limits.

Out of 109 valid votes from residents in the Westover Village Civic Association area, 90 voted to support the above recommendations; 13 supported fewer hours of operation for the live music; and 6 were opposed to granting this permit. I hope that you will take this input into account as you prepare to vote on the live music permit at your May 14 meeting.

Robert Orttung
Westover Village Civic Association President

More letters, after the jump.

Dear Members of the County Board,

The Leeway Overlee Civic Association similarly supports the granting of the Use Permit for the Westover Market’s beer garden by the County Board. At our last Leeway Overlee General Membership meeting held 16 April 2011 we took an informal vote on our support of the beer garden at Westover Market, assuming provisions are put in place to limit the decibels of music and the hours of operation. The vote was unanimous in support of live music at the beer garden, with the caveat that the provisions that are accepted would have to be supported by the immediate (most effected) neighbors in the Westover Civic Association. Based on the Westover Civic Association described below, I believe those provisions are supported.

Therefore, please accept this email as evidence of support by the Leeway Overlee Civic Association of the Use Permit the Westover Beer Garden seeks in order to allow them to have live music. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact me at one of the numbers below.

Sincerely,

Karla Brown
President, Leeway Overlee Civic Association

The Tara Leeway Heights civic association supports the County Board granting a Use Permit for the Westover Market’s beer garden. Our civic association has worked with the surrounding citizens and civic associations, and been active during discussions regarding issues surrounding the granting of the Use Permit. The residents of the Westover civic association are those most affected by the issue of noise from live music. We therefore support the below correspondence from the Westover civic association where the Westover civic association supports a Use Permit for the Westover Market’s beer garden with certain limitations on the times and noise levels for live music.

Best Regards,

Bill Braswell
President Tara Leeway Heights Civic Association

Dear Members of the County Board,

The Highland Park – Overlee Knolls (HP-OK) Civic Association, like its neighboring Civic Associations, supports granting a Live Music Special Use Permit for the Westover Market beer garden. On Tuesday, May 10, at our HP-OK General Membership meeting, the thirty assembled members voted unanimously in support of allowing live music at the Beer Garden, under the conditions recommended by the Westover Civic Association. This approach balances the desire of the Westover Market to provide live music and a gathering place for residents with the need to protect neighboring residents from intrusive noise levels.

The live music permit has generated significant interest among members of the community, and we applaud the efforts of the Westover Civic Association to engage the surrounding community and Civic Associations in a full and open dialogue that allowed issues and concerns to be aired. Drawn from these discussions are a set of reasonable recommendations that both allow a local business to thrive and protects neighboring residents.

Furthermore, I am confident that the spirit and the letter of the recommendations can be implemented, and that sufficient community oversight is in place to ensure a timely resolution if any future concerns arise. The Highland Park Overlee Knolls Civic Association encourages the County Board to approve the Live Music Special Use Permit under the conditions recommended by the Westover Civic Association.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Alan Howze
President, Highland Park – Overlee Knolls Civic Association

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