Broad Street Cafe fights for volume


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Pipe, getting lit at Durham's The Broad Street Cafe last month for Troika Music Festival (Photo by Jeremy M. Lange)
  • Pipe, getting lit at Durham's The Broad Street Cafe last month for Troika Music Festival (Photo by Jeremy M. Lange)

If it’s too loud, shut it down: Durham’s The Broad Street Cafe is collecting petition signatures in preparation for a hearing before the Durham Board of Adjustment Wednesday, Dec. 9, that could limit the venue’s late-night music.

Acting on complaints about noise coming from the venue first filed in March, the City investigated the cafe, which is open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and determined it was in violation of its commercial zoning district. In order to allow live music past 10 p.m., the club will need to obtain a special minor use permit.

“The zoning along that section of Broad Street is primarily commercial neighborhoods,” says Michael Stock, Durham City-County Planning Department’s senior planner. Stock notes that The Broad Street Cafe, located at 1116 Broad St., is operating as a nightclub. “They are open after 10 p.m. on a regular basis. They offer food, drink and entertainment—all qualifications of a nightclub.” If the cafe was in a different zoning district, he says, Durham wouldn’t require this special permit.

Attorney Paul Brock, one of the four co-owners of The Broad Street Cafe, doesn’t like the term nightclub: “I believe we’re so much more than that,” he says. “We’re a community restaurant, offering music and a lot of benefits to local artists.”

Musician Brannon Bollinger agrees. He’s one of many area artists to circulate the Broad Street petition to his fans and friends.“Even if you don't play or listen to music at Broad Street,” he wrote in an e-mail, “please sign this petition to keep musicians like me employed there.”

However, that petition, a well intended community gesture already signed by 450 people, may not be allowed as evidence when the Durham Board of Adjustment hears the case, says Stock.

At least the City of Durham has agreed to allow The Broad Street Cafe to continue with its previously booked gigs, until Dec. 9. After that, though, Durham might be down another venue.


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