Last night Community Board 6’s landmarks/land-use committee dealt a harsh (albeit symbolic) blow to local watering hole and performance space Union Hall. After a lengthy and often rancorous public hearing about renewing the Park Slope bar and venue’s liquor license, the committee voted 6 to 2 in favor of a motion that denies Union Hall a renewal unless the business’s owners sign a contract stipulating that they will take measures to ameliorate noise, such as stopping the sale of alcohol after midnight. Although the motion is ultimately only advisory, the committee member who introduced itâ€”Lou Sones, who himself owns a bar, The Brazen Head on Atlantic Avenueâ€”described it as the community board’s “nuclear weapon” in terms of being a powerful indication to the State Liquor Authority that Union Hall is disturbing the lives of nearby residents. The motion was introduced after a two-hour-long pubic hearing in which many supporters of Union Hall, which is on Union Street between 5th and 6th avenues, spoke about how much they appreciated the business. A good number of residents who live near the establishment, meanwhile, described how noise from the business and its patrons was negatively affecting their quality of life. More people at the hearing, in fact, spoke out in support of Union Hall than against it. Find out what they had to say, and read the anti-UH faction’s claims, on the jump…
The business’s boosters said Union Hall is a great deal more than just a bar or rock venue. One of the people who runs the club’s Secret Science Club, for example, noted that his group has brought three Nobel Laureates to speak at the venue, and comedian Eugene Mirman talked about how his comedy night at the venue has been called one of the best in the city. Union Hall co-owner Jim Carden described how many Brooklyn organizations have held fundraisers at the space and detailed the many ways he and his partners have tried to address noise concerns, from soundproofing to putting up signs like the one at right to trying to hold meetings with block residents who say they’ve been disturbed by the bar’s noise. Some of those residents, who have been complaining about Union Hall for many months now, described not being able to sleep because their street is constantly filled with drunken revelers at all hours of the night and morning. Most dramatically, one Union Street resident said she’d been dealing with auto-immune problems that were directly linked to sleep deprivation. The struggle between Union Hall and its neighbors is one that’s currently being played out all around the city, and community boards have become battlegrounds where the fight between people who want to preserve their residential streets and businesses that want to operate on those streets is played out. A somewhat similar liquor license battle was recently fought over an oyster bar that’s opening on Hoyt Street. The committee’s recommendation on Union Hall will be voted on by all of Community Board 6 next week, and if the full board also backs the motion, the State Liquor Authority will have to weigh the decision when it decides on whether to renew Union Hall’s license at the end of this month.
Neighbors to Union Hall: Shut Up! [Brownstoner]
Shucks! Oyster Bar Dredges Up Controversy on Hoyt [Brownstoner]