Arlington, VA

There will be concerts at Westover Market’s beer garden (5863 Washington Boulevard) this summer, after all, thanks to a unanimous vote by the County Board to approve a rare outdoor live entertainment permit — with some strict conditions.

Westover Market manager Devin Hicks has agreed to abide by 14 conditions, which were laid out by county staff in response to the concerns of residents who own homes near the beer garden. (Initially, staff recommended against the permit, but were instructed by the Board to come up with conditions more acceptable to concerned neighbors.)

The conditions include:

  • Live entertainment will take place only on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., on Fridays from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
  • Music will be acoustic only — no amplifiers allowed, at least initially (see below)
  • The decibel level from the performances will not exceed 60 decibels before 9:00 p.m. and 55 decibels after 9:00 p.m. — which is consistent with the county’s residential noise control ordinance
  • Maximum capacity at the beer garden during live events will be 98
  • Performers will face Washington Boulevard, not the residential neighborhood behind the beer garden
  • Patrons and performers will be prohibited from dancing, unless the Market applies for and obtains a Dance Hall Permit
  • Westover Market will designate a “neighborhood liaison” to handle noise complaints
  • The Market will hire an acoustical expert to develop a “sound management plan”
  • The performances will be subject to random compliance checks by county staff
  • Live entertainment will only be performed between April 1 and October 31

As a show of good faith, Hicks also agreed to not use “piped in” or recorded music (e.g., a radio) in the beer garden on nights when there’s no live music, even though he would be permitted by right to do so. He will also voluntarily set up a live web cam that will display a decibel meter for residents to review.

The conditional live entertainment permit will be reviewed by staff in September. At that time, if the county determines that “the owner has complied with all conditions… to that point,” the beer garden may be granted approval for amplified music. The permit will come up for County Board review in February 2012.

“The Board is striving for a balance here that will both allow limited live entertainment outdoors at this neighborhood restaurant and protect the surrounding neighborhood,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “In the coming months, we will be monitoring the situation carefully.”

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