Oak Harbor City Council hearing to revoke nightclub license delayed
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
February 26, 2013 · Updated 3:30 PM
Members of the Oak Harbor City Council will reschedule a hearing to consider revoking the license of a popular, but troubled downtown bar.
In the meantime, the Element nightclub is facing possible enforcement action from the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
During council meeting last Tuesday night, the council voted to open the quasi-judicial public hearing into the Element’s license and immediately continue it until later in the year.
As part of the motion, the council members asked the city administrator to find a date for the two-day hearing that works for the owner of the Element.
The city administration requested the continuation of the hearing. Police Chief Ed Green said the city officials weren’t ready for the complex proceeding. He said the city’s attorneys delivered “six major binders” on the case that morning.
In a memorandum to the mayor, Green wrote that city officials should consider revoking the Element’s nightclub license based on a series of violent incidents associated with the club, as well as the owners’ failure to follow conditions on the license.
A nightclub license is a type of city business license and is separate from a liquor license.
Green highlighted the incident involving Oak Harbor resident Chris Cooper, who died as a result of a fight a few blocks away from the Element. The police reported that both Cooper and the man he fought had been drinking at the Element prior to the confrontation, which occurred several blocks away, Green wrote.
The club has also been the source of a multitude of noise complaints from nearby condo residents.
Owner Mike Kummerfeldt, however, consistently defends the club’s reputation and said he’s done nothing wrong. At the city’s request, he installed security cameras and hired additional security people; he claimed the number of complaints are down.
Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, said the Element has two pending administrative violations. One alleged violation is for a “minor frequenting” the club. The second, he said, is for a bartender allowing a “bartender license” to lapse and for serving “an apparently intoxicated person.”
A settlement conference is scheduled for March 7. Carpenter said the bar owner can argue the validity of the pending violation or request mitigation, which means a lesser sanction.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.