NC is indebted to the dreams and the voices of 10s of thousands of Dix Park supporters who for over a decade worked to preserve this land for a 21st century destination park for all the people of NC and the generations to come. A special thanks to Mayors Nancy McFarlane & Charles Meeker, Governor Beverly Perdue, the Raleigh City Council and the NC Council of State who listened to and entrusted this land to their people.
Quoting Stanley Abbott, landscape designer for our Blue Ridge Parkway:
“I can’t imagine a more creative job than locating that Blue Ridge Parkway, because you worked with a ten-league canvas and a brush of a comet’s tail.”
Perhaps I can speak for the thousands anxious to participate: let’s bring out our canvases and brushes, find our Umsteads and Abbotts, unleash the excitement and imagination of our people as we begin together the journey to make Dix Park our 21st century masterpiece.
Thanks to the Independent that gave us such a wonderful forum to initiate discussions on House Concerts in Raleigh and the many folks that have posted and followed the saga! A special thanks to Bob Geary & Larry Robinson who provided those precious ‘bread crumbs’ (OK intellectual insights) at the start of the journey that I and others were in time able to follow & understand why and where we are (and aren’t). ;-)
I believe that Sherry Johnson’s last posting is on target – the issues are complex and the paths ahead are many, so we are at a point where we need to bring together many different voices in the community with their experience, wisdom and ideas to envision the path where music and community and all the creative arts can flourish together in many venues.
There will be a time in the near future where this discussion will again need to emerge in an open environment to debate the solution-oriented discussions about how we go forward. But we do need to keep the conversation targeted and productive, and as Sherry suggests, it is time for a small group can meet to brainstorm potential solutions and next steps.
Bett & I are also going off-blog at this point, so please contact us (we are easy to find on the internet as the City has surely demonstrated ;-) ) if you will like to be involved.
May everyone have a wonderful and safe holiday season and again thanks to ‘Indy’ and the community for creating the first chapter in perhaps a long & and hopefully creative journey.
Bill & Bett
Little Lake Hill, Raleigh NC
The ‘Complaint’ really wasn’t a ‘Compliant’
We want to thank Raleigh Inspections for meeting with us this past Friday because we were concerned that if we were a nuisance of any type for our neighbors (the N&O reported ‘a neighbor’s complaint) we would not want to continue with our House Concerts events even though ‘3’ are now legally permitted each year. We were able to talk with the city staff person that received the initial inquiries … and she affirmed that they were only inquiries from someone wanting to also have House Concerts.
While we don't know whether the ‘inquiries’ were for the purpose of establishing another House Concert venue ‘for their community’ YEA!! Or to bring attention that we were doing House Concerts ‘for our Community’ and should be investigated, we hope that it was to expand music by promoting the arts, the artist and enhancing the community. The staff person that received the calls (there were more than one call from this person, stated that the inquirer did not complain about our House Concerts but they wanted to ‘do their own house concerts, charge a fee, make a profit and have them every week’. The City explained they were not allowed. They noted that concerts were being held at 1213 Dixie Trail … so why couldn’t they be allowed? There are no official documents of the actual calls.
The City – AS THEY SHOULD - then looked into our House Concerts – and the information on our House Concerts was that were right there on our webpage. We are very public on the Web and hid nothing since we are fortunate that we can bring incredible artists and art into the community, take no monies for expenses or profit, and share our home for an evening of community and incredible music. They investigated our activity (as the City is supposed to do) and cited us with a possible violation of having a ‘prima facia’ (on first glance looked like we were) business in our home …. While we may not agree with the decision, the City did what it was supposed to do.
This posting is for two reasons;
1) All events like gatherings in our homes (music, parties and otherwise) should be controlled by the nuisance laws and ordinances which we have in place. When they become a nuisance, the City take proper recourse.
2) And To thank all of our neighbors that have been so supportive over the decade and in some cases have come into our home for these concerts. And to reaffirm that while we have had no complaint of any nature that our concerts have a negative impact on the community, we would immediate cease and desist having these events were they to become a nuisance and detriment.
We are weighing what our next steps should be. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Bill & Bett
I am a strong advocate for all kinds of music venues on Hillsborough Street, bars & restaurants and other businesses that provide those services to the students of NCSU and St. Mary’s and Meredith College & neighbors in the surrounding community. I am also an advocate for vibrant quality of life for all neighborhoods especially those that adjoin Hillsborough Street and I believe that it is important for both to flourish and respect each other. As Chair of Raleigh’s Wade Citizen Advisory Council, an organization that represents all citizens of the area (residential, business, University) and provides a regular forum for discussion of issues relevant to our community: development, traffic, crime, zoning, safety, nuisance, etc. and provides counsel to our City Council, there have been no issues with live music on Hillsborough Street that I or the Wade CAC have been involved going back over a decade, much less opposed.
I hope that the community will work together to promote live music in all venues and settings – on Hillsborough Street, Fayetteville Street or on Any Street as well as in our homes as long as we do not diminish the quality of life for our neighbors. And I hope that this becomes the people’s cause – and NOT the Padgett’s cause and that we stay focused on the rights of assembly, free speech and pursuit of happiness – more specifically returning our rights to have live music in our homes.
PS Todd my personal apologies if I offended you by calling at 10:50. Actually we have met and have had several discussion when you lived on Wade. I had tried reaching you on several occasions this evening and just wanted to briefly talk with you before I posted back to the blog. It was not meant to offend or disrupt but I agree that I should have waited until tomorrow considering the time. I do hope we can talk in the future. Again my apologies.
I am trying to get the actual transcript from the BOA hearing so I can quote directly what the arguments the city used to justify their case that our House Concerts were a business. Tomorrow I hope to have further information and I will try to post something.
What I asked for and received today was the final motion that passed at the Board of Adjustment meeting held December 14, 2009.
The motion was to “deny the appeal and to uphold the City’s interpretation of the ordinance indicating this is a prima facia business which is therefore prohibited by the Code.”
It might be good to reflect on the NC motto: Esse quam videri a Latin phrase meaning "To be, rather than to seem to be." Let me rephrase: To find truth, rather than ‘prima facie’.
I have no doubt that the BOA interpretation is erroneous. But please weigh in on my interpretation below and help me to expand my understanding because I feel that I have surely missed something that helped get us to this conclusion and I would like to find the best path to reverse it.
We become a ‘prima facie business’ the moment someone states (thinks) that it looks like a business to them ... If someone thinks you look ‘at first glance’ like a business (even an anonymous person) then you are ‘prima facie business’ at least to them and probably others.
I believe that the job of the BOA was to look deeper into the issues (see both Larry Robinson’s and Bob Geary’s post above) and decide if we were actually a business – NOT just on the surface might like one. Thus the BOA’s job was to look more deeply into house concerts … and decide if facts support the supposition that these activities constituted a business?
Our lawyer gave the BOA the definition of a business from the defining legal source (sorry I do not have that exact quote) but it centered on profit … here is another legal definition from
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/business business n. any activity or enterprise entered into for profit.
Of course not all businesses make profit but most try very very hard so one might extend that definition to the spirit to try to generate a profit.
So why a BOA? Well city code is far from perfect and the BOA exists to help interpret what the code meant (the spirit of the law) and how the code (that spirit) applies to a particular case.
From the Raleigh Code: In residential areas … Prohibited uses include:
“Any use of prima facia business, commercial, or industrial character not otherwise specifically allowed in the District”
So we might expect the first task of the BOA is to decide whether this to be taken literally or interpreted in the ‘spirit’ of the law.
So the first question they must answer is when the code was written what was the appropriate interpretation for this code …
1) did our city fathers really mean that if you looked like a business (prima facie business) whether you were a business or not doesn’t matter you are prohibited.
2) Or did they mean that if on first glance you appear to be a business (prima facie & thus the citation) but on closer examination the facts show that you actually are not a business and thus the function would be permitted.
If you chose 1) like four of the five members of the board of adjustments, the case was over before we walked into the room. There is no question that there are aspects about a house concert (meet-up, charity fundraiser, boy scout meeting, political fund raiser, etc.) that are like a business i.e. ‘prima facie’. Folks gather, money may (or may not) be exchanged, they listen to music/politician or not, etc. The actual facts of what constitutes a ‘business’ does not matter since if it looks like a business and that is enough.
Example … If you look like a senior citizen you get free coffee at MacDonald’s – on first glance you may ‘appear’ too young to be a senior citizen – that’s it, you don’t get free coffee.
If you chose 2) then while you appear to be a prima facie business, this is where you start and now with the power of testimony under oath you ask question to discover the truth. Are these house concerts generating profits for the Padgett’s, etc.? Are the charges that the City has brought forward true, false or ambiguous.
Example … While you look like you are too young to be a senior citizen, upon examining your driving license & picture ID, one may indeed have the information that you are old enough & thus you get that coffee free.
Now after the two hours of pretty confusing discussion around the BOA table, I need to see the transcript (I hope that it is word for word) to quote accurately. However the real issues of substance that make a business were not really debated thus there was no final finding of fact – just finding of ‘prima facie’. Thus if someone were to ask me what would need to change for House Concerts to not be a business and thus permitted, I could not begin to explain.
By the end of the meeting they accepted the city’s charges as valid although the city gave no proof of their charges and we did rebuff each and every charge. Our rebuttal was strong enough to reject charges and they really didn’t dismiss our rebuttal but it didn’t matter – it’s not what it is but what is seems.
While I do think we proved our case that we were not a business … how does one go about proving house concerts (and many other events) are not a prima facie business?
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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