Nightclub in the City

The Metropolitan Area Planning Department (MAPD) is undergoing a process to review the Unified Zoning Code's (UZC) definition of a Nightclub in the City.

What Is a Nightclub in the City?

In general, the term applies to locations that provide entertainment and serve alcohol.

The UZC defines Nightclub in the City as "an establishment located in the City that provides entertainment, which may include the provision of dancing by employees, or patrons, and where cereal malt beverage or alcoholic liquor are offered, consumed or served to the public or its members, and which may, or may not serve food…."

The City of Wichita defines Entertainment as "any single event, a series of events, or ongoing activity or business, occurring alone or as part of another business, to which the public is invited or allowed to watch, listen, or participate, or is conducted for the purposes of holding the attention of, gaining the attention of, or diverting or amusing patrons, including, but not limited to any of the following:

  • Dancing by patron(s) to live or recorded music
  • The presentation of music played on sound equipment operated by an agent or contractor of the establishment, commonly known as "disc jockey" or "DJ"
  • The presentation of live music whether amplified or un-amplified
  • The presentation of music videos, music concerts or other similar forms of musical entertainment from any source or
  • Any amusement or event such as live music or other live performance which is knowingly permitted by any Entertainment Establishment, including, but not limited to, presentations by single or multiple performers, such as hypnotists, pantomimes, comedians, dance acts, concerts, dances, live bands, karaoke or other live music

What Is the Issue?

When many hear the term "nightclub," they envision an establishment for nighttime entertainment, typically serving drinks and offering music and dancing. However, under the current definitions, the term generally applies to any location that provides entertainment and serves alcohol. For example, a small café that serves wine and has a small band that provides live music would be classified as a Nightclub in the City, just as a large dance club with a DJ and a bar would be.

The following list provides more examples of what is currently defined as a Nightclub in the City by the UZC.

Activity:

  • Cafe serving wine that has a live guitar player
  • A Bar and Grill that has karaoke night
  • A restaurant that serves beer and has line-dancing servers
  • A small event venue that can host weddings with a catered bar
  • A large dance club with a DJ and a bar

Examples that fit current definition of a Nightclub in the City:

  • Café serving wine that has a small band

  • A Bar and Grill that has karaoke night
  • A small event venue that can host weddings with a catered bar
  • A large dance club with a DJ and a bar

Multiple stakeholders (including residents, business owners, elected officials, and others) have expressed concern with the UZC's defined use of Nightclub in the City. These concerns include:

  • Too many uses that would not normally be considered a nightclub fall under the definition of Nightclub in the City.
  • The term Nightclub in the City creates confusion between citizens, business owners, and city staff when describing a project that would not normally be considered a nightclub.

Why Does the Definition Matter?

Nightclubs in the City are permitted by-right in various zoning districts including LC Limited Commercial, GC General Commercial, and CBD Central Business District. However, when located within 300 feet of a church or place of worship, public Park, public or parochial school, or residential zoning District, a Nightclub in the City requires a Conditional Use.

A Conditional Use requires the business owner to apply for a special permit through the MAPD. The process includes posting a public notice sign on the subject property, sending out public notice letters to nearby property owners, and publishing a public notice in the newspaper. In each case, the public notice will state that the Conditional Use is to allow a Nightclub in the City. This creates confusion when for the public when the business is not one that would normally be considered a nightclub (café, bar and grill, restaurant, venue, etc.).

Proposed Changes

MAPD is proposing several updates to the UZC to more accurately reflect the different types of venues that serve alcohol and include entertainment. The full draft language with denoted changes to the UZC can be found in the sidebar on this webpage. A summarized list of the changes can be found below.

  • The UZC-defined use of Entertainment Establishment(s) in the City will now include the offering of alcohol. This brings it in line with the existing definition of Nightclub in the City.
  • The UZC-defined use of Nightclub in the City will now only apply to uses with a capacity of 300 or more persons. This will exclude many smaller restaurants, venues, or cafes that serve alcohol and provide entertainment.
  • Entertainment Establishment(s) in the City will now be considered Conditional Uses when located within 300 feet of a church or place of worship, public Park, public or parochial school, or residential zoning District (up from 200 feet in existing UZC).

These proposed changes should clear up some confusion as it relates to the term Nightclub in the City. A small café that serves wine and has a small band that provides live music would now be classified as an Entertainment Establishment in the City. A large dance club with a DJ and a bar would still be classified as a Nightclub in the City. Both uses would still be considered Conditional Uses when located within 300 feet of a church or place of worship, public Park, public or parochial school, or residential zoning district. The table below provides examples of how activities would be defined under the proposed changes.

ActivityProposed Definitions by UZC
Café serving wine that has a small band (see note 1)Entertainment Establishment in the City
A Bar and Grill that has karaoke night (see note 1)Entertainment Establishment in the City
A small event venue that can host weddings with a catered bar (see note 1)Entertainment Establishment in the City
A large dance club with a DJ and a bar (see note 2)Nightclub in the City

Note 1: With maximum capacity less than 300 persons

Note 2: With maximum capacity 300 persons or more

Public Engagement

MAPD is in the middle of gathering public input on the proposed changes to the UZC. The Planning Department plans to reach out to stakeholders including nightclub owners, District Advisory Boards, and the Planning Commission prior to taking these changes to the Wichita City Council and Sedgwick County Board of County Commissioners for final approval. 

Events

Upcoming Events


Previous Events

  • In April 2022, the MAPC Advance Plans Committee received a presentation on the draft Unified Zoning Code updates and proposed review process.
  • In June and July 2022, Planning Department staff provided presentations to the District Advisory Boards.
  •  On October 19, 2023 at 3pm, the Planning Department is hosting a meeting at the Planning Department conference room #203 (271 W. 3rd Street, Wichita, KS 67202) for individuals and stakeholders to learn more about the possible change to the Unified Zoning Code.