Noise Complaints Lead to Changes at A-Town

A-Town Bar and Grill(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Neighbors of Ballston’s A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive) have convinced the Arlington County Board to force the night spot to close its outdoor bar early.

On Saturday, the Board approved new restrictions to the bar’s outdoor patio. Despite A-Town’s owner’s objections, the outdoor bar will no longer be able to serve alcohol directly to patrons after 10:00 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. All alcohol served on the patio will have to be delivered by a waiter to patrons at a table.

The change to the bar’s site plan was made after residents of nearby condominiums, in particular The Berkeley at Ballston (1000 N. Randolph Street), lobbied the Board with complaints that the bar was making too much noise and negatively impacting property values.

“Commercial businesses must understand that they are doing business where people live,” Berkeley Unit Owner’s Association President Roger Lindberg said in a letter to the Board. “Late night disturbances make it an unpleasant community experience and thus directly impact the value of all our homes. Late night outdoor partying even on weekends, is not a reasonable expectation of any homeowner.”

“In addition to the noise… A-Town has attracted a more rowdy group of patrons who hang out in our public garden area after closing, creating noise, tossing trash onto our property and frankly causing a security concern for the whole building,” Lindberg added.

In addition, the bar will install a theater-style curtain around the patio to further block out noise. Attorney Jon Kinney, speaking on behalf of A-Town’s owners at the meeting, said the closure of the outdoor bar should at least be held off until it can be determined if the curtain is effective enough.

“We think the curtains are going to work and be able to contain the noise,” Kinney said. “We worry if we close the bar and the serving area and and we put the curtains up, that we won’t be able to open back up and know what worked.”

Members of the Board said they believed the curtain would help and questioned whether to hold off on forcing A-Town to close its outdoor bar, but the motion passed unanimously.

“It’s been really hard for the neighbors,” Board member Libby Garvey said. “I’m not saying it’s anybody’s fault, but I think we just need to bring [the noise] down as much as possible.”

Lindberg called the site plan amendment, which also renews the site plan conditions that allow live music and dancing at A-Town, a “reasonable… middle ground for all interested parties.”

Staff will conduct a review of the changes in three months, and the site plan amendment will go before the board in June for renewal.

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