Hopmonk use permit renewed
Hopmonk Tavern's outdoor music will be allowed for another six months, despite the objections of a handful of neighbors who spoke against the conditional use permit at Thursday's Sonoma Planning Commission meeting.
Indoor music was not an issue, but outdoor music, played from 5 to 7 p.m. on Fridays, and 3 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, was not acceptable to some speakers.
"Anything that intrudes on the enjoyment of our home is a problem," said Cassandra Miller. "His noise level annoys us. We want peace and quiet."
Dean Biersch, applicant and owner of the tavern, said he has tried to be a good neighbor, that his permit actually allowed additional hours which he chose not to use, and that he and his staff closely monitor performers so they do not exceed allowable decibel levels.
"I've stood in front of various residences in the neighborhood and I don't understand the problem," he said.
City Planner David Goodison said 43 complaints had been received during the last six months, but 70 percent came from three sources. Because of complaints, staff had taken noise readings in various spots outside the restaurant and on no occasion had the allowable decibel levels been exceeded.
Commissioner Mathew Tippell said he had visited Hopmonk when musicians were performing. "It is unimaginable to me how music is at a complaint level."
But neighbors did not agree.
"We don't want to hear his amplified music," said Regina Baker. "It is a nuisance to the neighborhood."
Commissioner Michael George said it appeared that neighbors wanted no music at all. An option might be to require that music not be amplified.
"I see no justification for restricting Mr. Biersch further," said Commissioner Chip Roberson. "He has made concessions, but there is a small group that won't ever be happy."
The commission voted 7-0 to extend the CUP for an additional six months, noting they are not extending it beyond that time because an ordinance the council will soon be considering will address the subject of live music venues.
In other matters, the Planning Commission:
• Approved a plan to allow the Sonoma Valley Hospital to pave, landscape, and light a portion of the Carinalli property between Hayes and Fourth Street West to provide permanent staff parking. The Design Review Committee will have final say on the materials, landscape details and lighting standards, but the commission recommended permeable surfaces and required a higher four-foot berm to prevent headlights from shining into nearby
residences. Mathew Tippell and Michael George voted no.
• Allowed Valley Oaks Affordable Housing Project off Sonoma Highway to proceed with construction, but developers must continue efforts to convince Caltrans to allow a mid-block pedestrian crossing across Sonoma Highway north of Spain Street, which would connect with a sidewalk near Mary's Pizza headquarters building. Sidewalk provided by the project along the east side of Sonoma Highway cannot connect with existing sidewalk north of their development because property owners in between do not want to provide an easement.