DES MOINES, Iowa — Live music on an East Village rooftop patio seems to be a natural fit. “It`s given our customers a place before eating and after eating to relax and have ambiance with the music,” said Uriah Mixdorf, owner of the Rooftop Bar on East Grand and East 6th. Mixdorf says the city doesn`t agree. “Even if we remain under the city sound guidelines we aren`t allowed to have anything considered live music. We are allowed to have background music which runs through our stereo.”
As a workaround at the seasonal establishment, Uriah tried running the bands’ music through the bar speakers instead. “We found out that is also considered what they called amplified music versus normally a band setting they do have amps and powered speakers,” said Mixdorf.
Uriah says if he didn’t sell alcohol it’d be different. “The rules apply differently if you have a liquor licenses versus no liquor license.”
Uriah says he`s never been cited for sound infractions but a letter dated August 5th from the city of Des Moines says the city has received numerous complaints regarding sound from bands with sound systems. It`s a cease and desist letter of any music coming from an amplifier. “It doesn`t make a lot of sense as to why one level of sound is different from another as far as source is concerned,” said Uriah.
The city says it has nothing to do with decibel levels but instead a permit signed by a previous owner of the building back in 2010, eight years before Uriah took over the Rooftop Bar. “When I actually looked into finding out how to obtain a special permit, we aren`t even allowed to apply for it because of the way our zoning is for our property,” said Uriah.
In a statement, Des Moines Communications Manager Al Setka said, “The city believes the rooftop bar was in violation of its conditional use permit. The matter will be scheduled to be reviewed next month at a meeting of the zoning board of adjustment.” Uriah will be there. He said, “We are willing to work with them and I`d be happy to stop at 10pm and everyone can get rest but that`s all we are looking for is a chance to provide entertainment.”
Mixdorf is scheduled to meet with the Zoning Board of Adjustment at their next meeting on September 25th at 1pm.