Nightclub license granted

A new Oak Harbor restaurant and nightclub slated for a Dec. 14 opening barely made it past a crucial hurdle Tuesday night when the City Council approved cabaret, and pool and billiards license applications.

Located in the former Department of Social and Health Services building on Bayshore Drive, the 10,000-square-foot structure will also feature a bar, pool room, VIP room and raised lounges. The restaurant will be called the Hot Rock Grill and the nightclub Element. The cabaret license covers live music.

Councilman Jim Campbell expressed concerns about possible noise issues for the condominiums located across the street by the baseball field.

“Hopefully those concerns will be addressed during the application process,” he said.

Oak Harbor Police Capt. Rick Wallace said the noise issues have not been resolved yet, but he added that during meetings with the applicants, Lance Koehler and Mike Kummerfeldt, who also own the Bayside Lounge, were receptive to the idea of security-consciousness.

“I think they have an ownership of what goes on inside the club and in the parking lot,” Wallace said.

City Administrator Paul Schmidt said the condo owners were not notified of the business plans. Councilwoman Sue Karahalios recommended doing so before approving the licenses. Several council members wanted the applicants to understand that the licenses could be revoked if noise became a problem.

Given the business’s location, Wallace said noise will likely be heard. He agreed with Karahalios that the issue should be dealt with earlier rather than later.

“My suspicion is that it will come to rise if we don’t deal with it beforehand,” the police captain said.

Council member Larry Eaton placed himself in the position of the condo owners and did not like what he imagined. He reiterated that noise will be an issue and the pertinent section in the code is “vague and nebulous.”

“I sure wouldn’t want that to happen to me if I lived across the street,” he said.

Councilman Paul Brewer said his colleagues should be supporting bringing business to Oak Harbor, not prematurely scrutinizing proposals.

“We’re saying they’re going to violate the law before they even start,” he said. “We don’t want to chase them off. They’re investing a lot of money in Oak Harbor.”

Koehler said Wednesday that the restaurant is in the front of the building and the nightclub technically underground on the bottom floor of the two-story structure.

“We took every precaution in the planning phase to put the loudest area in the back,” he said.

For noise that might spill out into the parking lot in the form of intoxicated patrons, Koehler said the new business will employ the same type of security such as they use at the Bayside Lounge casino.

Following the lengthy discussion Tuesday, the council approved the licenses, seemingly intent on keeping a close eye — and ear — on the new establishment.

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