Charlottesville Breaking News

Unanimous vote: City Council lowers nighttime noise law to 55dB

news-belrioclosedBel Rio, 8am, August 17: quiet for now. PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

Just five months after lowering the limit from 75 to 65 decibels, City Council voted unanimously Monday to lower the late-night noise level restaurants are allowed to emit to 55 decibels.

The August 16 action brought a wave of applause in the first row of City Council Chambers; and it came despite the recent demise of the Belmont neighborhood restaurant that had been responsible, according to Council's discussion, for 100 percent of the recent sound complaints.

According to a city report, the recent noise complaints were rendered moot–- though certainly not mute–- because the readings measured the offending noise at an average of 58 decibels, which is above the...

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Landmark saved: Bridge owner, Staunton partner on ped bridge fix

onarch-searshillbridge2The bridge has provided free skyline views since 1904. PHOTO BY RACHEL OBENSCHAIN

The Sears Hill bridge will be saved. On Tuesday, July 27, the fate of the historic Staunton footbridge was sealed with the city’s decision to take ownership and restore the 106-year-old structure.

The debate came to a close with owner Richard Macher offering to pay up to $20,000 to temporarily remove the bridge, which currently stands atop the Staunton passenger rail station which he also owns. The City of Staunton agreed to match Macher’s pledge and assume responsibility for the restoration. The city’s $20,000 portion will come from its general fund, which City Manager Steve Owen noted might require a budget amendment.

Although no firm repair cost has been determined, prior estimates suggest the price could climb as high as $250,000, so Owen expressed hope that the community will get involved to close the funding gap.

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Baldi watch: Bel Rio owner's absence prompts media scramble

dish-baldiBel Rio owner Jim Baldi FILE PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR

Since the Hook first reported last week on the mysterious disappearance of Bel Rio owner James K. Baldi, local reporters have busily dug up new information that suggests the debonair 47-year-old freelance accountant and restaurateur’s impromptu vacation could become permanent.

It also appears that his 25-year-old traveling companion, Kristian Throckmorton, a former Bel Rio bartender, was indeed the subject of a missing persons report. While Throckmorton’s mother, Wendy Ellis, declined media comment when the story first broke July 20, a story in the Daily Progress reveals that the family filed a missing persons report, an action that appears to have launched a brief police investigation.

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Where's Baldi? Bel Rio closes, owner vanishes

dish-baldiBel Rio owner Jim Baldi. FILE PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR

Bel Rio, the Downtown Belmont restaurant and music venue that has sparked a passionate debate over noise-levels at night spots–-which led to an amended City noise ordinance–-appears to have disappeared, along with its owner, without a sound.

A sign on Bel Rio’s door last week announced that the venue would be closed for two weeks for vacation and kitchen renovations, but that was news to building owner Jeff Easter.

“I still haven’t heard from him,” says Easter of Bel Rio owner Jim Baldi. “I think he’s gone.”

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Cold hit: Police connect Morgan Harrington slaying to Fairfax attack

news-harringtonattackerwantedsketchThe suspect, depicted here from the 2005 victim's description, would now be 30 to 40 years old. FAIRFAX POLICE

Police investigating the slaying of 20-year-old concert-goer Morgan Dana Harrington have made a "cold hit" connecting forensic evidence obtained in the investigation with an unknown 2005 rape suspect in Fairfax.

The young woman from Roanoke, who was pursuing an education degree at Virginia Tech, disappeared after leaving a Metallica concert on the night of October 17, 2009. Her mostly skeletal remains were discovered a little over three months later on 742-acre Anchorage Farm in southern Albemarle County.

Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office, University of Virginia Police, Albemarle County Police, and the Charlottesville Police are working with the City of Fairfax Police in regards to both criminal incidents.

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