PDT Staff Writer
Former Portsmouth Mayor and current Fourth Ward City Councilman Jim Kalb has signed his own recognizance bond for $150, and had a court date set on a disturbing the peace charge after he received a citation over what authorities say was a violation of the city’s noise ordinance, a non-jailable offense. Kalb operates the Columbia Music Arena on Gallia Street, which has come under fire by some residents and business operators in the area recently for the noise produced by concerts at the facility without a roof over the concert area.
“I have a court date set for Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. in the Portsmouth Municipal Court room of Judge (Steven) Mowery,” Kalb said Wednesday.
Kalb said the issue has to come to court because he wants a resolution. Kalb said the crowds begin arriving around the same time they have been having to close, which has drastically hurt business.
Meanwhile, embattled Portsmouth businessman Lee Scott, owner of the Columbia, was meeting with legal representation Wednesday to formulate the wording for a ballot issue that would do away with the Portsmouth City Charter.
“We hope to revert the whole city to the Ohio Revised Code,” Scott said. “And if we can get the language done properly, and, of course we won’t know until after I meet with the attorneys, we want to totally do away with the charter and all ordinances that have been set up under said charter, so that they can’t keep using the ordinances against the people, and have to use the Ohio Revised Code for everything.”
Several citizens and business operators believe Scott is breaking the city noise ordinance since the part of the facility where the bands perform has no roof. Scott maintains he obtained all permits, and was cleared by the city in constructing the building following a fire in 2007.
“I think that (changing to the ORC) will help us tremendously,” Scott said. “I have run into the charter wall so many times. I’ve tried to talk to people about my problems down there. It’s all local. I can’t do anything. I can’t go over their head. They’ve put their own restrictions on us and everything, and if we are under the Ohio Revised Code, we have the same rights as Columbus, Cincinnati, and all the other places that have arenas just like mine. My feelings are that I would have the ability that if they tried to bother us under the Ohio Revised Code, I would be able to go to the state officials on it. Right now I can’t do it.”
Scott continued, “Only certain people are complaining, for the most part, on my noise. It’s not about the noise. It’s about me.”
Scott said he attempted to talk to City Solicitor Mike Jones about the problems at the Columbia.
“I called Mike Jones yesterday (Tuesday), and I said, ‘Mike, we’re looking at a $300,000 figure putting this roof on here.’ I said, ‘right now I owe nothing on my property. It’s all paid for, it doesn’t matter if I make money.’ I said, ‘when I put a $300,000 roof and everything on this place, what kind of assurances do I have that I’m not gonna have the same problem?’ - I get none - no assurances whatsoever.”
Scott said Jones did invite him to come to his office and talk with him about the problem.
“But he doesn’t want to give me anything,” Scott said. “They want us closed by 11 (p.m.) o’clock. And if we have state rule in here, then they can’t force their little city ordinances on me. They can’t revamp them. They can’t remake them and interpret them to mean what they want them to mean, because then it means what the state wants it to mean.”
Scott said, currently, under the state law, he has an A-5 arena, meaning he has the same rights as a football field in the same area of the city.
“I can do whatever I desire because under state law we have an A-5 arena,” Scott said. “They’re trying to impose their charter on me with their noise limitation for what they want. They won’t do it to anybody else.”
Scott says he hopes to begin the petitions process by Monday. Scott said it is probably too late to get the issue on November’s ballot, and will probably be brought up at a special election.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org