Defending the Bean. | Solid State

Defending the Bean.


Today's Sound Bites column has a blurb about the legal troubles currently facing Burlington's Radio Bean. It features quotes from a  letter/petition being circulated by Neil Cleary. Here is Neil's plea in its entirety. If you agree with his statements, send your "signature" to

UPDATE: I was informed by Assistant City Attorney Gene Bergman of a couple of inconsistencies in the Radio Bean blurb.

#1: Anderson didn't find out about the possibility of sanctions at the June 1 Licensing Comittee hearing. The information had been included in a notice of hearing that was served on May 8. It was of course, reiterated at said hearing.

#2. The $200 fine Anderson paid was not for a "violation of fire code." It was a noise ticket. The capacity issue is separate.

All this legal stuff makes me dizzy! Read on for Neil's missive.

Dear Friends,

The Radio Bean has come under fire from the city recently over a fire code violation, and is in danger of being penalized out of existence. Please read the letter below and RSVP to let me know if I can attach your name to it. Let me know too if you're comfortable with me listing credentials with your name (as in: "Bill Clinton -- Former President of the United States"), and let me know how you want them listed. Don't be shy. Hopefully we can help the City Council see how important the Radio Bean is to all of us.

Neil Cleary



After being found in violation of their fire code capacity one night (for which they have already paid a $200 fine and since adhered to much stricter capacity policies), the Burlington City Council is now considering imposing restrictions on the Radio Bean coffeehouse, such as suspending their liquor or entertainment licenses, which would effectively put them out of business. This would be not only a great loss to the community, but extremely unfair and short-sighted decision, considering the following:

* This is the first violation of its kind for the Radio Bean in its 6 years.

* The Bean has already been penalized once by the fine, and have since assiduously followed a very strict capacity policy. Penalizing the Bean further would be excessive, and nothing short of catastrophic for the business.

* The Radio Bean exemplifies a model of responsible alcohol consumption, emphasizing European-style coffeehouse atmosphere, arts, and community over copious consumption & public drunkenness -- unlike countless other bars in Burlington. If it were to go under, another less-responsible institution might very well take its place.

* Without exaggeration, literally hundreds of Burlingtonians will vouch for the character of owner Lee Anderson, an extremely responsible and compassionate small-business owner and pillar of Burlington arts. For years, Lee has single-handedly encouraged and nurtured a scene based around the Radio Bean, organizing neighborhood festivals, parades, theatrical performances, and even producing a CD of Radio Bean musicians. He's done this with a passion and maturity that we find inspiring.

* Additionally, Lee is an valued resident on the North Winooski/Pearl Street block, a block that has historically seen its share of struggles with failing businesses & troublesome tenants. Aside from renting space as a business for 6 years, Lee is a resident himself, and has helped building owner Clark Hinsdale place numerous responsible tenants in the apartments upstairs.

* Aside from a successful business, the Radio Bean is an indispensable community center for the city of Burlington. It is a gathering place not only for musicians, painters, poets, photographers, and artists of all description, but it is a regular meeting place for groups of community organizers, students, mothers with children, blogger/podcasters and more.

* Plans are already underway to expand the Radio Bean, taking over the adjacent space currently occupied by Lovely Nails. This will greatly expand the Bean's ability to present local arts, as well as ease their current stifling space constraints. Imposing further punitive restrictions at this particularly fragile moment in the business would make these improvements impossible.

In short:
The Radio Bean is one of Burlington's most important community/arts institutions, that deserves the city's support. Please don't impose restrictions that would put it out of business.
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