News

Nightclub ordinance gets the go-ahead

Oak Harbor’s updated nightclub ordinance is getting mixed reviews.

The ordinance change appeared before the City Council Dec. 2, but complaints from Oak Harbor Tavern, Flyers Restaurant and Brewery and other license holders that the proposed $500 annual fee was too much, prompted the council to take another look at the $350 increase.

Tuesday night, Oak Harbor City Council presented and approved a revised nightclub ordinance that charges license holders a $210 annual fee, up from the $150 fee that dates back 36 years.

Oak Harbor Tavern manager Kelly Beedle is happy with the revised fee.

“I think it’s great,” she told the News-Times.

But the revision didn’t satisfy all current license holders. Jason Tritt, co-owner and manager of Flyers, doesn’t consider his business a nightclub, but according to the city ordinance it is.

Any business that serves liquor and plays music after 10 p.m. one or more night a week is considered a nightclub if food sales make up less than 75 percent of its income, according to the ordinance.

The fee seems unfair for his restaurant, Tritt said, adding that Flyers also pays other licensing fees to the state.

The administrative cost to the city for each license in $400, which covers the police investigation, development services investigation, background checks and publication costs of public hearings associated with each licensing.

A revision that could exempt restaurants from the nightclub ordinance isn’t feasible, said Margery Hite, city attorney.

“If you want to make it more complex, you might as well give it up,” Hite told the council.

The new ordinance allows council to apply specific conditions to each license, Paul Schmidt, city administrator, said.

With the passage of the revised ordinance, the city is notifying all nine existing license holders about the changes.

The businesses will receive a temporary license, he said, until the council can review each application. Council will then hold a public hearing, where it will assign specific conditions to the license holders.

When asked about enforcement of the new ordinance, Schmidt said that police will not be cold-calling businesses to check up on their activity.

“Unless we get complaints, or it’s really apparent that they’re not following the ordinance,” he said. “It’s all behavior based.”

“We’re not going to go out and beat the bushes. That’s not the point.”

The updated ordinance, he said, provides license holders “with all due process,” and “the specific conditions will ensure that there won’t be any problems.”

“For an extra 60 bucks, that’s a pretty good deal.”

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