Don’t discourage businesses from coming to city

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Tuesday’s Suffolk Planning Commission meeting was a disappointment on a couple of levels.

First, was the bizarre amendments that planners insisted on making to the Baron’s Pub conditional use request to permit live entertainment at the restaurant to be located at 185 N. Main Street. No music before 5 p.m. during the week, was one suggestion, none at all on Sundays, was the other that somehow made their way into the recommendation that the commission forwarded to Council.

The second disappointment was the level of sophistication on the issue exhibited by some commission members. The planning department staff reported that the restaurant’s hours would be 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. seven days a week and that the one- to three-man acoustic bands would likely be playing three nights a week from about 9:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. One commissioner’s concern was that Baron’s would have one person singing from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. every day. The commissioners also caved to a ridiculous request to not allow music before 5 p.m. so that the noise would not disrupt the conducting of business downtown. We suppose they feel with that one they struck a blow for pawn brokering.

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Baron’s is not a biker bar and judging by the original location in Olde Town Portsmouth, will be nothing but an asset to Suffolk. In fact, it is just the thing downtown needs to attract people, assuming that’s the reason the city is dumping tens of millions of dollars into the area.

Suffolk’s governing bodies should be doing whatever they can to encourage enterprises like Baron’s to locate here, not making entrepreneurs jump through ridiculous hoops that are based on faulty assumptions and 19th-century thinking. And if any other would-be businesspeople happened to be in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, they’ll no doubt think twice before working to hang a shingle in Suffolk. Who could blame them?

City Council should approve Baron’s request and strike the Planning Commission’s amendments.