HUNTINGTON BEACH : Hearing on Eatery's Hours, Music Slated

The City Council will hold a public hearing tonight on whether a restaurant in the newly renovated downtown should be allowed to have extended hours--to 2 a.m. on weekends--and live music.

Opponents have said they will protest to the council that the proposal will increase noise and traffic. But supporters, including the city's professional staff, have said the restaurant's request is reasonable and justified.

At issue is Nicolle's Ristorante, located at the corner of Main and 6th streets. The restaurant has piano music, but it is requesting permission for additional musicians to accompany the pianist. The restaurant also is asking for permission for a dancing area.

In a letter to the City Council, the Rev. Mike Foell of the Community Bible Church, 401 6th St., opposed the restaurant's requests for expanded hours and music.

"Parking is already a problem, and the extended use will increase this problem for those living nearby," Foell said. "The noise level and increased hours of noise would be increased not only inside the restaurant but outside, most particularly. We do not wish to see any more establishments in this area that will be encouraging drinking until 2 a.m. and then driving home after having extended their alcohol consumption well beyond mealtime."

Mike Adams, the city's director of community development, told the City Council that the city staff endorses the restaurant's requests.

"The restaurant is located in the downtown area in a mixed-use zone," Adams said in a memo to the council. "Mixed use typically results in commercial and residential land uses occurring in close proximity. Such proximity is intended to create a downtown urban atmosphere. Staff maintains that the proposed expansion of live entertainment is compatible with surrounding uses and appropriate for the downtown area."

The restaurant has asked for permission to extend its night hours until 1 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Adams said the council may want to compromise and limit the closing time to midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends.

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