Monday, the city's Planning Commission unanimously supported an ordinance that may mean new rules for clubs. The new code would use zoning districts and permits to regulate the clubs.
A nightclub doesn't necessarily fit in every neighborhood in the City of Richmond.
"A nightclub is truly different than a restaurant," explained Kathy Graziano, who sits on both the City Council and Planning Commission. "It attracts a different clientele. It has different hours."
Not everyone wants the increased foot and car traffic, police patrols and noise that sometimes come along with these venues in their backyards.
"This is a valuable tool for the city to give them a hand and get a little better behavior out of some people and also take control over the types of neighborhoods and the fabric of these neighborhoods," said Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association President David Napier.
If someone wants to open a nightclub in a neighborhood with a certain zoning designation, they'd have to apply for a conditional use permit. That comes with close vetting and regulations from the city.
"Each conditional use permit is subject to a public hearing before the Planning Commission, City Council," staffer Roy Benbow told commissioners. "One of the major advantages of the conditional use permit process is City Council can attach special conditions."
This is an update to the rules put in place two years ago and an addition to ABC regulations from the state.
It's important to note, these rules would only apply to newly created nightclubs. Ones already in business would not have to get these permits.
"If it's a tool that can be in the city's box that will help get better and safer neighborhoods, then it's a valuable tool," Napier added.
This ordinance was originally proposed by Doug Conner, who lost his seat on council this year. Council President Charles Samuels says they are figuring out who will lead the paper through the process now.
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