Scioto County Candor
Recent meetings of the Portsmouth City Council have drawn crowds out in droves over the firing of City Manager Derek Allen, but some local business owners have another issue on their radar.
Though Council has the City Manager situation as an item on the agenda, Council will also be discussing resolutions that could impact operations of two local businesses.
The resolutions, introduced by Portsmouth City Police Chief Robert Ware and City Solicitor John Haas, would deny annual renewal of liquor permits for Richard Noggins Pub, located at 821 Gallia Street, and for the Columbia Music Arena, located at 832 Gallia Street.
The two resolutions were already recommended to be added to Council’s agenda but were rejected. Each resolution required four votes to pass. On the Columbia resolution, Councilmen Kevin E. Johnson and Gene Meadows voted no. Councilman Jim Kalb abstained. Former Councilman Kevin W. Johnson, Councilwoman Jo Ann Aeh and Councilman Tom Lowe voted in favor of the resolution. On the Noggins resolution, Kevin E. Johnson, Lowe and Meadows voted no.
Kevin W. Johnson’s term has since come to an end, and Councilman Sean Dunne has stepped into the First Ward seat.
Each resolution cites numerous reasons for denying the license renewals. In regards to the Columbia, such reasons include getting three citations since obtaining permit in Oct. 2015. According to the resolution, those violations include sales to minors and a tax violation.
“During 2016 and 2017 there were 74 calls for service at that location,” the resolution further states. “This included three arrests and one fatal shooting.”
The resolution also states that the majority of calls were in regards to such activity as fighting, drunken disorderly, smoking, smoking marijuana, serving those under 21 or for medical assistance.
“The continued operation of the business will substantially and adversely interfere with the public decency, sobriety, peace and good order of the neighborhood,” the resolution states. “The granting of this permit will be detrimental to the morals, safety and public welfare.”
Since the fatal shooting at the Columbia in early December, bar owner Lee Scott says he had taken numerous measures to improve the safety of the bar. The bar has been closed while safety upgrades are underway. The location has also recently underwent health, fire and building inspections. Before reopening, Scott says the establishment will include metal detectors at the door and experienced security.
The bar owner added that he has also taken an active role is trying to help law enforcement’s investigation of the December shooting by offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who witnessed the shooting and is willing to provide information.
Per the Noggins resolution, reasoning against renewing a liquor license for this establishment includes the listing of 25 citations since obtaining permit in Oct. 2001, with the most recent violation being Nov. 14, 2017. Violations include tax violations, failure to pay the Bureau of Workers Compensation, sales to minors, bad checks, being in possession of a raffle or drawing and giving away beer or liquor in connection with business operations.
“During 2016 and 2017 there were 85 calls for service at that location. This included nine arrests and one baggy of heroin recovered,” the resolution further reads about Richard Noggins Pub. “During 2016 and 2017 most of the calls were for fights, drunken disorderly conduct, smoking, smoking marijuana, property damage, persons under 21 being served and/or calls for medical assistance.”
Efforts were made to get comments from a Richard Noggins representative. The only response from the establishment was, “I have been open for 17 years with no major issues until someone wanted to link RN (Richard Noggins) with Columbia drama… No comment.”
Council is scheduled to meet again at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the old Portsmouth High School gymnasium on 8th and Waller streets in Portsmouth.
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