Angela Hunt wants to make one thing clear: That proposed ordinance that would rezone Lower Greenville Avenue as a Planned Development District isn't "Area 51, black helicopter, keep-it-quiet stuff. There's nothing secret about this." Which is why, late Tuesday, she released the revised ordinance to be presented at a July 29 neighborhood confab at Vickery Towers.
She sent the doc after Avi Adelman published an earlier draft, which included a section that would have, as Avi writes, "closed some businesses that have been on the street without problems for nearly 30 years." Hunt says the ordinance isn't about closing down bars, but rewriting the rules concerning how businesses must operate if they intend to keep their doors open after midnight.
(Under the ordinance, they'd need a specific use permit to stay open, and if they're not granted one by the council, then they literally need to turn out the lights, even exterior "illuminated lights," by 12:01 a.m.)
There is, she tells Unfair Park, an "imbalance" among the bars and restaurants that populate that end of Greenville: "So many bars and clubs operate into the wee hours of the morning, and we use such police resources and taxpayer money to babysit these people. And, there's so much crime and traffic. We need to address this."
The stretch of Greenville affected runs from Belmont Avenue to Bryan Street, and Hunt says it will not address parking or occupancy requirements. "This is just about operating after midnight." And while the ordinance is more proposal than reality at present -- it still needs to go through the City Plan Commission and the whole council, with perhaps a committee pit stop in between -- Hunt and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano have high hopes it'll rid the area of "the bad actors" who, they say, are running business owners aware of its rep, at least, as a police state on weekends.
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"I've talked to resataurant owners who say, 'We'd come down there, but it's too scary,'" Hunt says. "They don't feel like there's a draw for decent restaurants. We will pull in those kinds of businesses, but first we get rid of bad operators who can't see their way to police their patrons and address noise complaints, etc."
And after they're gone, Hunt says, the bond money comes.
"The next phase, and what I am committed to, is working toward investing $3 million in the street -- narrowing it to match what's north of Belmont, making sidewalks wider, putting in nice trash cans, pretty croswalks, making it a nice place to walk. But I won't fight for that if we're doing it for a bar district. In fact, I'll fight against it. But the next step is to beautify the look of Lower Greennville."
And all that, she says, will "attract a better quality of business. Again, it's not going to happen overnight. The problem wasn't created overnight, and to do this ad hoc approach -- getting one bar at a time -- is to do nothing more than play Whac-a-Mole. There needs to be a holistic approach, and I'd like to see it go sooner than later. We need to pull the trigger if we're doing to do it. This has a good shot at improving Lower Greenville."