PDT Staff Writer
Portsmouth businessman Lee Scott, owner of the Columbia Music Arena, appeared before Portsmouth City Council Monday night to discuss recent complaints by members of Portsmouth City Council and citizens of the downtown area about the noise emanating from the facility which has a large area not under roof, and to tell them he is going to begin staying open until 2:30 a.m.
“We built this arena with the state’s permission and the city’s blessings,” Scott said. “We received an A-5 Building Permit, not an A-3.”
An A-3 permit is for a facility completely under roof. An A-5 permit is for an open air arena.
“Naturally with an open air arena you are going to hear some music some distance away from it,” Scott said. “Bands are not that quiet. We are not allowed to put a roof on our building from our state plans per our certificate of occupancy.”
Scott told Council he had spent $1,200,000 on the arena, and crowds at the shows were varied, with small crowds some nights and large crowds on other nights.
“As recently as this weekend, shortly after 11 o’clock (p.m.) we had a police officer arrive and tell us to shut it down - that we are violating a city ordinance,” Scott said. “We are in a commercially-zoned area, and I fail to understand why people who live in a commercially-zoned area can’t accept it for what it is. It is commercially zoned. We built a commercial facility.”
Scott said he cannot continue to close the shows at 11 p.m.
“At 10 o’clock (p.m.) Saturday night, we had three people in there,” Scott said. “By 11 o’clock (p.m.) Saturday night we had over 300 people in there. That’s the hours we are making $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 an hour. We can not and will not continue to close at 11 o’clock at night. It can not be done. Our permits call for 2:30 in the morning.”
Scott then began to blame the City Charter for what he referred to as a lack of leadership in the city.
“Every time something doesn’t work the way somebody locally doesn’t want it, they change the rules,” Scott said. “It’s time to quit changing the rules.”
“It is my full intention to put the Charter on the ballot,” Scott said. “I would like to see our Council do it. There are a so many people in our city who want to see our Charter removed and for us to go to the Ohio Revised Code. We don’t want to just have one person going to Congress to speak for us. Any of us want to be able to go to Congress. That’s the problem - we can’t do it under our Charter. I’m going to work so very hard in the next couple of months to expose to our citizens what our Charter really has done for us. And I want to see this charter go on the ballot. Our Council has the opportunity to do that without a special election. If it takes a special election I’m prepared to go that route. Whatever it takes, our Charter needs to be removed.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org