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Little Woodrow’s gets permit to rock out, but below 70 decibels

Monday, March 22, 2010 by Josh Rosenblatt

Council members voted on March 11 to modify a previously approved permit to allow for a compromise between a University of Texas area bar and its neighbors. The move will allow Little Woodrow’s bar the opportunity to have live music on a limited basis.


The Council considered an appeal by the North University Neighborhood Planning Team regarding a staff decision to approve an Outdoor Music Venue Permit for Little Woodrow’s at 2610 Guadalupe Street.


Little Woodrow’s received its Outdoor Music Venue Permit last July. According to staff documents the neighborhood appealed approval of the permit “on the basis that the venue is in direct conflict with the goals of the Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan, which seeks to develop and foster existing mixed use on commercial corridors such as Guadalupe Street in a way which is pedestrian oriented, neighborhood friendly, neighborhood scaled, and serves neighborhood needs.”


Scott Morris, representative for the neighborhood, asked the Council to 4ify the outdoor permit and help them create a new one more compatible with neighborhood uses. “This is an inappropriate location for late-night and loud outdoor music because it is unfair to the surrounding residents and may prevent the realization of our neighborhood planned goals,” he said.”


At issue, primarily, were living conditions at the Taos Co-op, the five-story building next to Little Woodrow’s that provides housing for 115 members of the University of Texas community, including students and faculty members. Several of the residents of the co-op, primarily those living on the south side of the building, have complained about noise and music coming from the bar.


Although the original appeal asked Council to rescind the outdoor music permit, Morris told members that his client would be willing to compromise on a decibel-reduction proposal as part of a new permit. According to the terms of that compromise, Little Woodrow’s would agree to keep all live music at 70 decibels and would only allow outdoor live music until 10:30pm, Sunday though Wednesday, 11pm on Thursdays, and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.


Little Woodrow’s co-owner Rick Engel told Council that he was willing to compromise but that he hoped to add a caveat that would allow the bar to play outdoor music up to 85 decibels on Fridays and Saturdays. 


Eventually – after a 30-minute break for live music and proclamations in Council Chambers – staff came back and told Council that there had been a private agreement reached between College Houses, the company that manages the Taos Co-op, and the owners of Little Woodrow’s. The compromise, Planning and Development Review Department Director Greg Guernsey said, would allow Little Woodrow’s to keep its permit but restrict live music to 70 decibels at all times.


Council Member Randi Shade said, “This is precedent-setting in terms of how compromise is achieved in these conversations” and then made a motion to deny the original appeal and modify the Outdoor Live Music Permit to limit the decibel level to 70.


Council then voted unanimously to approve, 6-0, with Council Member Sheryl Cole off the dais.

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