2015-04-07 Business License Appeal Hearing Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
BUSINESS LICENSE APPEAL HEARING
TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2015

Council met in special session regarding an appeal of a denial of a business license on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. This is a continuation of the March 17, 2015 appeal hearing. Mundie called the meeting to order at 6:30 pm.

Council members Keith Bast, Jeff Cusat, Jeannie Mope, David Sosar and Jack Mundie were present. Also present were Martin Kelly, Attorney William Byrne, Counsel for Martin Kelly, Mike Wilfing, Code Enforcement/Licenses and Permits Supervisor, and Attorney Bob Cohen, City Solicitor.

Mundie asked Kelly if he has anything new to add since the last hearing. He added that he has no problem with granting Kelly his appeal if he is going to run the establishment as a restaurant. Kelly said he has decided to only run it as a restaurant and not a BYOB. Mope commented that some restaurants are still a BYOB. Sosar said Council had questions at the last meeting regarding Kelly’s business plan for the establishment known as Pulse Nightclub. He asked if there were any other changes. Kelly said no. He added that he is following the Pennsylvania Liquor Code’s definition of a restaurant. Mope commented that he must follow the City’s definition of a restaurant now that it is no longer going to be a BYOB. Wilfing stated that Kelly needs to file a new application with the Licenses and Permits Department because it was originally a restaurant and lounge. Sosar asked if Kelly is willing to do what needs to be done to be able to open his business again, and Kelly said he filed the application several months ago. Byrne stated no application for use is needed if only filing for a business license. Cohen said the renewal application filed by Kelly listed the establishment as a restaurant and lounge. But, when registering for a fictitious name, the establishment was referred to as Pulse Nightclub. He felt this reasonably raised an issue. Cohen said in accordance with Ordinance 2011-6, the business license was revoked by the Mayor. He said he gave a copy of this Ordinance to Kelly’s counsel as well. Cohen said Council is within its jurisdiction to render a decision on this matter. Cohen clarified that a restaurant is a permitted use in CH district, but a restaurant and lounge is not. Byrne disagreed and said a nightclub is a permitted use. Cohen responded a nightclub is not a restaurant and lounge. Byrne said Kelly has always been in compliance, and he is losing profits every day because he is abiding by the direction of the City. He added that Cohen neglected to give him a copy of Ordinance 2011-6 at the last meeting. He asked that the City send someone down to the establishment to see if it is in compliance before rendering a decision. Mope asked what hours the restaurant will be open. Kelly said 10:00 pm to 3:00 am for the “late crowd.” Mundie stated the Mayor’s letter to Kelly did not make sense and no reason was given as to why his business license was not being reinstated. Cusat said a fictitious name change should not be a problem. Sosar asked Kelly if he re-evaluated the situation and decided to have it be a restaurant, then why is there a problem with filling out another application. Byrne said Kelly does not need to fill out another application because no special exception is needed, and it does not need to go to zoning. Mundie said he has no problem with granting the appeal as long as Kelly provides by the rules and avoids the past problems associated with the business. Mope said she has no problem with it being a restaurant, and felt a late night restaurant was a good idea. She asked Kelly to make sure he follows all the rules and regulations for restaurants. Cusat said he had a 24-hour food license at one time, and a bar serving food could be open 24 hours as well. Bast asked if Kelly had a food license. Kelly said yes. He has both and they are both current. Cohen asked Wilfing what the status is of the kitchen. Wilfing said the kitchen is still not functional. They only had a hot dog machine when Mark Thompson, the City’s former health officer, inspected it last year. Kelly stated he does not need a kitchen to sell frozen food and put it in the microwave. Cusat said there needs to be enough food for 30 people for it to be considered a restaurant.

Mundie made a motion to repeal the Mayor’s determination and grant the renewal of Kelly’s business license for Pulse Nightclub. Mope seconded the motion.

  Motion to Repeal the Mayor’s Determination and Grant Renewal of Business License:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call (on Motion to Repeal the Mayor’s Determination and Grant Renewal of Business License):  Bast-no; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION PASSES 4-1

Mundie adjourned the meeting at 7:00 pm.