After the Chiasson cases holding that the Cabaret Law could not restrict the number or types of musicians, the City responded in 1989 by amending the Zoning Resolution and burying the restrictions against music and dancing. The report clearly acknowledged the purpose of the zoning amendments.
As to the Cabaret Law and dancing and music restriction, there was a major amendment submitted in 1989 and actually enacted in 1990. These amendments added the offensive provisions relating to dancing and music, which need to be removed. See Chevigny – Gigs: Jazz and the Cabaret Laws in New York City for a discussion of the background to the 1989 amendments.
The amendments were added explicitly in connection with the loss by the City in Chiasson 1 and Chiasson finding that the restrictions against music in the existing Zoning Resolution, which paralleled the Cabaret Law, were not constitutional.
The Department of City Planning began a comprehensive review of the 1 M 890808 (A) ZRY Zoning Resolution as it concerns entertainment establishments in order to create a more appropriate, up-to-date regulatory framework for controlling such uses. The review was begun after the City received complaints from community residents about noise, traffic, parking, sanitation and crowding impacts from clubs. In June 1986, the State Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the provision of the Zoning Resolution that regulates incidental musical entertainment by distinguishing types of musical instruments. In January 1988, the State Supreme Court ruled that the provision of the Zoning Resolution that regulates eating or drinking establishments by the number of musicians was also unconstitutional.
Although the Chiasson cases did not concern dancing, the Department took the opportunity to add new restrictions against dancing, nor previously in the Zoning Resolution, though reflected in the Cabaret Law. And, although the City was forced by its losses in the Chiasson cases to reflect the first amendment protections for live music, the City added restrictions imposing the cost or presenting live music and requiring venues to obtain Special Permits for live music in many Districts in Use Group 6.
IN THE MATTER OF an application submitted by the Department of City Planning pursuant to Section 200 of the New York City Charter, for amendments of the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York relating to language which refers to “incidental music,” easing restrictions on clubs with no dancing with capacities of under 200 people and imposing more restrictive regulations on larger entertainment establishments and those with dancing.1989 Report City Planning Commission 890808a