Rocky Fork Enterprise

Lounge 62 faces liquor permit denial, nuisance action

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Lounge 62, 953 E. Johnstown Road, is prohibited from serving alcohol while an appeals process goes through the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.

A stay-of-execution request from an attorney representing Lounge 62 was rejected Jan. 8 by the commission. As a result, the business doesn't have operating privileges through the commission, said Sarah Creedon, liquor-control commission executive director.

The business is closed for remodeling, according to a sign on the door.

The city of Gahanna twice has objected to the renewal of the business' Class D-5 liquor permit, describing it as the worst liquor-permit premises in the entire city.

The permit for Bar 62 LLC (which operates as Lounge 62) originally was issued Nov. 25, 2009. The managing members and officers of the permit-holding company are father and son Dragi Domazetov and Jove Domazetovski.

In a notice to the owners from the Liquor Control Commission last month, commission superintendent Bruce Stevenson wrote that the division denies and rejects the renewal of the permit based on various grounds and facts.

Those include that "the place for which the permit is sought is so located with respect to the neighborhood that substantial interference with public decency, sobriety, peace or good order would result from issuance of the permit."

In addition, the letter states, the establishment has demonstrated a disregard for local and state laws.

Gahanna police said they receive numerous complaints about loud noise, fights both inside and outside the premises, gunshots and other problems. The city also receives complaints about trash and bottles found in the street and in the parking lot, patrons smoking marijuana in the parking lot and alcohol consumption in the parking lot.

A fatal shooting occurred at the bar Nov. 29, 2013, when an armed patron, 28-year-old Omar R. Cunningham of Columbus, was shot and killed by a security guard.

City officials have stated the operation of the business puts a great drain on its resources.

Bar 62 owners filed an appeal with the commission Dec. 30, 2013.

The grounds for the appeal state that there's no basis in law for the Division of Liquor Control to refuse to process the renewal application and that the evidence submitted by the city doesn't support the findings of the Division of Liquor Control.

Creedon said she expects the commission to hear the merits of the case in February or March.

In addition to the liquor permit issue, the city in December filed a nuisance action against the bar with the Franklin County Municipal Court, Environmental Division.

Named in the complaint are Bar 62 LLC, Domazetov, Domazetovski, Forum Center LLC of Marion (property owner of record) and unknown managers and employees of Bar 62.

Additional time has been requested by the defendants in that case.

City attorney Shane Ewald said the city didn't want to wait for an outcome regarding the liquor permit.

"It has always been our concern that it has been an issue for public safety," he said. "One aspect is their ability to serve alcohol."

The complaint in municipal court states it's for temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. It notes that Ewald is charged by Ohio Revised Code and Gahanna City Charter with the prevention, prosecution and abatement of any public nuisance within the city.

The case alleges the defendants substantially interfere with the public decency, sobriety, peace and good order based upon consistent and significant criminal activity at or near the premises.

It also states that police calls to Lounge 62 are substantially disproportionate and far exceed any other liquor-permit holder in Gahanna. Therefore, the premises constitute a nuisance.

A long list of incidents is detailed in the complaint that involved police response dating back to Jan. 6, 2011.

The complaint calls for the closing of the premises for a one-year period.

Ewald said the city has tried to work with the bar's owners to come to an agreement about a particular set of accepted behaviors.

"We requested no firearms on the premises, and that didn't work out," he said. "Our concern is the way the operation has been managed and the impact of adjacent neighbors and public safety."

ThisWeek tried reaching the bar owners for comment, but the numbers listed on the Lounge 62 website weren't answered, and voice mail wasn't set up.

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