City News

City council expects heated debate over campus-area hotel’s entertainment license

The Edgewater Hotel’s entertainment license is the subject of an ongoing fight in the city council.

Image By: Jon Yoon

Is the Edgewater Hotel too loud? Some Langdon Street residents say the hotel’s frequent concerts and loud outdoor events make it nearly impossible to have a conversation in their own homes.

The hotel, located off Langdon on the shore of Lake Mendota, is the subject of an ongoing fight in the city council. In September, the Madison Alcohol License Review Committee granted the Edgewater an entertainment license allowing for 35 outdoor events per year, much to the chagrin of some of the area’s residents.

Now, the fight moves to the full city council, where Tuesday’s discussion of the license is expected to draw hours of testimony from speakers on both sides of the issue. The committee meeting on Sept. 13 was prolonged due to the large number of speakers from the community, and Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, expects more of the same this week.

“Our last meeting lasted from approximately 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. because so many people turned out to testify either in favor or against the Edgewater,” Verveer, who serves on the ALRC, said. “At the council meeting [Tuesday], we’ll have more or less a replay … of that ALRC meeting.”

The argument over the hotel’s license is largely related to the number of events the city allows the Edgewater to hold each year, as well as the maximum volume for the events.

Residents living within a one-block radius of the Edgewater routinely call in noise complaints during the hotel’s outdoor events. Some testified that the frequent concerts are uncomfortably loud for everyone in the immediate area. Although many of the people who live near the hotel attend UW-Madison, most of the residents who testified in September were not students, Verveer said.

A number of Edgewater employees, including some students, also testified in favor of the hotel’s right to host loud and frequent outdoor events.

Verveer said that “neither side was particularly happy” with the agreement that the ALRC reached in the wee hours of the morning that granted the Edgewater 35 outdoor events each year with noise under 70 decibels at street level. Edgewater management said that was too few and too quiet, while some residents said it was too many and too loud.

At the upcoming city council meeting, both sides are expected to counter the ALRC’s recommendation with proposals of their own. The committee voted 3-1 on the adoption of the license, with Verveer casting the only nay vote.

Verveer was quick to point out that he believes the hotel should have an entertainment license, but that it should be more mindful of residents’ concerns.

Ald. Ledell Zellers, whose district includes the Edgewater and the surrounding area, agrees. She is expected to propose a stricter license at the upcoming meeting in order to make the city “sensitive to real people with real lives who have homes that they want to be able to live in.”

“The Edgewater does have some very desirable and wonderful events there and have certainly done some great things in supporting some great organizations,” Zellers said at the September meeting, as reported by The Capital Times. “However, these wonderful events are really only wonderful if you can choose whether to go or not go, if you can choose when to leave, when to listen.”  

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