West Hartford proposing entertainment regulations, including music curfew

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WEST HARTFORD – Town officials in West Hartford are proposing a new town ordinance that would regulate entertainment venues.

The ordinance, which was first mentioned during a town council meeting Tuesday, proposes pulling the plug on live music and DJs at 11 p.m. But Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said that that portion of the ordinance will likely be amended.

Van Winkle said the purpose of the ordinance isn’t to shut down music, but to encourage bars and restaurants to operate safely.

“It’s more likely to be substantially later, maybe even closing time,” said Van Winkle, regarding the music curfew.

The ordinance would establish an entertainment license for restaurants with music, which they would apply for through the Chief of Police on an annual basis. The ordinance as written said that license would cost $500, but Van Winkle said that will likely be lessened as well.

“If you operate appropriately, which the vast majority of our restaurants do in West Hartford Center without question, then you don’t have to worry. But if you continue to have issues with violence at your restaurant, then we’re going to take away your right to music,” said Van Winkle.

The town also has the ability to determine a police detail is necessary at certain establishments. If the police chief decides that is necessary, the restaurant would be required to pay for that detail.

The ordinance was proposed after several issues with Los Imperios Restaurant on Farmington Avenue, including a shooting outside the restaurant in early September. That resulted in the state temporarily revoking their liquor license. The owner was not available for comment Thursday night.

“We’ve had gunfire multiple times in one restaurant. We have violence, fights where all of our police have to come to one restaurant in order to quell what is almost a riot,” said Van Winkle.

He said, “These are extraordinary incidents. We had someone take 13 shots at another car on Farmington Avenue. We don’t have that kind of thing in West Hartford. That doesn’t really occur and we don’t want it to be something that’s common in our community.”

Van Winkle said they plan to edit the ordinance as early as Friday, and meet with restaurant managers next week about the details in the ordinance.

A public hearing is scheduled for October 13.