Northland News

Sept. 21 deadline

City seeks reasons to object to liquor licenses

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Liquor-fueled fistfights at a neighborhood tavern? Teens scoring beer at the corner store? Prostitutes hanging around the carryout down the block?

Bill Sperlazza wants to know about them all.

It's not idle curiosity; it's his job.

Sperlazza, the assistant city attorney assigned to the Northland area, was on hand at the Northland Community Council's monthly meeting last week to ask residents to forward information about problem places with liquor licenses. That's because around this time each year, members of city council can request that those licenses not be renewed in light of legal problems and citizen complaints.

Council members can vote to object to license renewals for things such as code, health and sanitation violations, drug sales, violence and prostitution, Sperlazza said.

"We definitely have a bunch on our radar," he told community council representatives.

He's going to have more.

"You'll have a list," vowed NCC president Emmanuel V. Remy.

The deadline for filing objections with the City Attorney's Office over liquor license renewals is Friday, Sept. 21. Columbus City Council members were scheduled to hold a hearing on the process this week.

Sperlazza, who is the assistant city attorney assigned to appear on behalf of the city in hearings on objections over license renewals, said the email addresses and direct telephone lines of all employees of City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr. may be found on the website columbuscityattorney.org.

Sperlazza's email address is wasperlazza@columbus.gov.

On the problem-establishment front, Sperlazza reported on two recent successful efforts to shut down after-hours clubs in the Northland area. One was at 2820 Sunbury Road, where parties lasted well into the wee hours and included exotic dancing and alcohol sales, all without a permit, along with shootings and drug sales, he said. The other, called Lavish Lifestyles, was located at 2745 Northland Plaza; objections there also included booze being sold and exotic dancing without a license, as well as drug sales, Sperlazza said.

In both instances, nuisance abatement complaints filed against the companies running the clubs and their managers met with success, he added.

The first one was boarded up thanks to a court order and the manager was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

In the second case, the owner of the property evicted Lavish Lifestyles and vowed to find a "legitimate renter" after the company running the place and its manager were likewise declared "nuisances," Sperlazza said.

During his monthly report to the community council, Columbus police officer Scott Clinger, liaison to one of the precincts that includes Northland, spoke with some bitterness about "the one that got away."

Clinger said a suspect in a series of burglaries in the area, a man whom officers feel "99-percent sure is responsible" for the crimes, can't be charged with anything because his victims failed to keep a record on file of the make, model and serial number of the items stolen during the break-ins.

"He'd be in jail right now for a string of receiving stolen properties," Clinger said. "All of those things are really, really important, especially if you are a gun owner."

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