Fire codes limit Nashville Nights to one level

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By Emily Ford
Nashville Nights needs a nod from the fire marshal before Salisbury City Council will decide whether the bar can open in two storefronts or just one.
After an amicable exchange Tuesday with owner Karen Littleton, Council tabled until Feb. 1 her request to open a nightclub at 125 E. Innes St.
Council already has approved a special use permit for Nashville Nights at 127 E. Innes, where Littleton had planned a two-story country music nightclub.
But city fire codes required two new exit doors on the second floor, Littleton said, which would have significantly altered the appearance of the building.
And because she doesn’t own the building, Littleton said she didn’t want to pay for an expensive sprinkler system, also required for the second floor.
At one time, 125, 127 and 129 E. Innes St. all were connected as a Western Auto, she said.
Littleton’s new plan calls for opening an interior passageway between 125 and 127 E. Innes St. This also will provide a safer environment than a two-story nightclub because security will have a better view of guests, she said.
Littleton and business partner Dick Palmore said they’ve worked closely with Assistant Fire Marshal Doug Stevens to design the floor plan and have implemented his recommendations.
“He has basically approved it,” Palmore said.
City Planner David Phillips assured Council that Littleton still would have to submit her plans to the city and meet all codes before she could open.
But Mayor Susan Kluttz said she wasn’t comfortable approving a special use permit until Council knows the proposed nightclub meets the fire code.
Fire Marshal Terry Smith, who was in the audience, addressed Council at the mayor’s request.
Smith said until he sees professional drawings, he can’t say if the bar meets the fire code. He acknowledged communication between the fire department and Littleton.
“We have talked on the phone with the owners, and Capt. Stevens has talked with them, but until we see final architectural plans, we cannot make a determination,” Smith said.
During the public hearing, resident Bob Bartlett asked Council to deny the nightclub.
Bartlett railed against alcohol consumption, listing dangers from drunken driving to alcoholism to time away from family.
Bars exist to make money off the misery of people and cause noise, crime and public nuisance, he said. Taxpayers end up paying for emergency room visits, criminal investigations and court time due to alcohol, he said.
Council member Paul Woodson acknowledged Bartlett’s concerns.
Council member William “Pete” Kennedy said he wants the same strict rules and guidelines approved for 127 E. Innes to be included with a special use permit for 125 E. Innes.
Other council members agreed.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.