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Thread: Are pool tables "live entertainment"?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
    Aug 1997
    Clowns to the left, jokers to the right

    Are pool tables "live entertainment"?

    So evidently in Shawnee, Kansas has determined that having pool tables (billiards tables?) in a bar constitutes "live entertainment", which means a Special Use Permit (SUP) is required. (See story below.)

    The City Council approved the applicant's SUP, but residents didn't like it, and the beauty school next store thought the presence of the tables in the bar would put them out of business, by scareing off potential beauty school students and/or their parents. (Quote: ""How many students will I lose before, ultimately, we have to close?")

    I've never heard of this kind of regulation concerning a pool table, dart board, pinball table, video game, etc.. I have seen it for a bar/club with a stage for the playing of live music and small concerts, or a boxing/wrestling ring, but not for an automated amusement.

    So, I'm asking this . . .

    Does ANY one else regulate pool tables in a bar as "live entertainment", requiring a discretionary permit to be issued?

    Does the Throbbing Brain think making a distinction between bars with and without pool tables is a good use of the zoning code? . . . Or is this going too far to restrict something with little secondary impact on neighboring properties and uses?


    Shawnee OKs new pool hall
    Jessica Marshall, Managing Editor
    September 29, 2005
    Dean Green of R&W Investments had luck on his side when Shawnee City Council members approved a special use permit Monday for this new restaurant and bar, Ace's & 8's, at 10328 Shawnee Mission Parkway.
    The proposed 14,300-square-foot restaurant will serve a full lunch and dinner menu, and have 64 pub tables and 10 large dining tables. About 20 percent of the space will house a billiards area containing six dart boards, two foosball tables and 25 pool tables. The pool tables are considered "live entertainment" and require a special use permit, according to city code, that would be subject to review after one year.
    At a Sept. 7 Planning Commission meeting, commissioners recommended the council approve the permit, even after listening to the concerns of several citizens. Among their concerns were that the establishment would be located too close to a residential neighborhood, increase noise and crime levels, and draw an undesirable crowd.
    One of those citizens, Melinda McHenry, owner of the cosmetology school Academy of Aesthetic Arts, also addressed the council Monday night. She said she is concerned for the safety of her students - 99 percent of whom are female and range from age 19 to 48 - and believes Ace's & 8's will negatively impact her business.
    "Imagine having a daughter who wants to go to beauty college. ... You take her to school and she's directly next door to a pool hall, bar and restaurant. Do you feel safe sending her to school there?" McHenry said. "We have beautiful women of all ages going to school, going out to their cars, late at night.
    "We are concerned about the noise and the smoke and the atmosphere that it will create. It just takes one guy who's drank too much to whistle or make an inappropriate pass at a girl to have her question her safety. This is of great concern to us, and we would be remiss if we didn't tell you."
    The decision to approve the permit came in a 6-2 vote, with councilmen Frank Goode and Neal Sawyer dissenting.
    "I personally think that you can do better, whether you're a restaurant or a pool hall or whatever," Goode told Green and building owner Rusty Rahm. "I've witnessed all the problems that we've had with these types of organizations that you guys are trying to put in here."
    McHenry suggested the city work to find a "more appropriate location" for Ace's & 8's where Green can draw clientele from surrounding businesses.
    "If I was a business owner doing what he's doing, I wouldn't put myself next to a beauty school. I wouldn't set myself up for that kind of liability," she said. "How many students will I lose before, ultimately, we have to close? This is a great business plan; wrong location. ... Should you let businesses open at the cost of other businesses?"
    Councilman Dan Pflumm said his opinion of Ace's & 8's is "it's a sizable investment and it's an upscale establishment that, hopefully, will be good for our city."

    "We don't want to impact your business, but we also have to look out for the whole community," Pflumm told McHenry.
    Councilman Kevin Tubbesing said he understood McHenry's concerns but felt that allowing the special use permit would give the city more control over the establishment.
    "Keep us informed and let us know what's happening. ... We'll stay on top of it," he said. "That's really all we can promise, because as a city council we don't really have, and we don't really want to have, the authority to block businesses."
    Councilwoman Dawn Kuhn said she does not believe that adding pool tables to a restaurant that serves alcohol negates it from being a family business.
    "I've taken my son on many occasions to Zig & Mac's, where they do serve alcohol. They don't have pool tables, but they do have Texas Hold 'Em tournaments," she said. "Zig & Mac's is open till 2 a.m., they serve alcohol, and it's right next to a woman's salon, whose customers have never been abused or scared off. If we're only allowed to pick businesses by what like businesses are in the neighborhood, how are we ever going to attract other businesses to town?"
    Kuhn reiterated that the special use permit is solely to allow operation of pool tables.
    "If we turned it down today, (Green) could still hold a Texas Hold 'Em tournament, where people would be having drinks and dinner, and we wouldn't be able to do a darn thing about it. Are you suggesting that pool tables, by their nature, bring in an element that we don't want?" she asked McHenry.
    "We're not talking one or two pool tables, we're talking 25 pool tables," McHenry responded. "We're talking about gambling ... where you have winners, you have losers, you have alcohol."
    "I've talked to other business owners next to establishments that serve alcohol and they have issues with it. It would be much different if it were just a beauty salon or a spa, but this is a training and educational facility."
    Councilman Mickey Sandifer noted the similarities between Ace's & 8's and Breakers - a former billiards establishment at 75th Street and Nieman Road that housed 31 billiard tables, six dart boards and multiple arcade games.
    "It was a nice establishment and we never heard complaints about it," he said. "You can't always stereotype everything. ... I don't believe Mr. Green is going to make the worst of the worst."
    Rahm said he turned it down when Green first presented plans for a pool hall. Now, Green has Rahm's support and that of other surrounding businesses, including First State Bank, Panera Bread and Trek Bicycle.
    "I didn't want anything to do with it. But I met with Mr. Green, saw his concept, how much money he was investing into it, and I think it's a good fit for what we're doing," Rahm said. "If I thought it was going to hurt the businesses in the area in any way, it's the last thing I'd do."
    Rahm said he has invested additional money in soundproofing the shared wall between Ace's & 8's and the cosmetology school, as well as offered to install signs in the parking lot directing traffic away from nearby residential neighborhoods and toward Shawnee Mission Parkway. Green also has agreed to spend almost $50,000 more per year for off-duty police officers to alleviate safety concerns and that he would close early, especially on week nights, if customers begin leaving by midnight.
    Other conditions for the Planning Commission's approval of the permit were that Ace's & 8's hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday, with no person under 21 allowed in the establishment unless accompanied by a parent.
    Debt is normal . . . Be weird!
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
    May 2004
    That is a little extreme. It's another example of planning gone bad. Planners and policy-makers need to realize that they risk a total backlash ala Oregon's Measure 37 if they continue to push the limits of what constitutes an appropriate use of police power.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
    Mar 2003
    "Somewhere in the middle"
    Just another example of why Kansas is going to hell.

    My first thought is...what does this school look like. I would have to say that most beauty schools that I have seen here in Kansas are not the most up standing establishments nor do they rent property that is in the best neighborhoods.

    As far as safety, I feel much safer in a pool hall with that many tables because people generally go there to play pool.

    As far as live entertainment, I don't agree with that at all.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    I have always associated live entertainment with some sort of performance, rather than an activity in which people engage. If pool is live entertainment, then by extension you should also include darts, bowling, video games, etc. It can get ridiculous. This smells like someone running for cover from having to make a decision. It is bad planning.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
    Jan 2005
    What if they start playing cards? Or telling jokes with the barkeep? Or tossing peanut shells into the dish for points? Do they need to get their Live Entertainment permit?

    It's BS. Pool tables, darts, et al. are not live entertainment. A performance is live entertainment. If that bar wanted to bring in some fiddlers for St. Paddy's day, for example, you could, in good conscience, call that Live Entertainment.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
    Nov 2002
    Quote Originally posted by Joe Iliff
    "We have beautiful women of all ages going to school, going out to their cars, late at night.
    This idiot just doubled the customers for the pool hall.

    Pool tables aren't LIVE entertainment, what's "live" about it?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries


    Those who responded above are correct that pool is not live entertainment. It sounds like someone doesn't like bars/drinking and wants to create problems some other way....typical political stunt against the booze.... As if pool would be something women should be worried about The booze on the other hand makes people do stupid things, so that must be the real issue.....

    Billiards is a great game and should be considered a family game Too bad these are in a bar
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  8. #8
    Cyburbian dogandpony's avatar
    Feb 2004
    Chicago, IL
    On first glance it seems like calling pool tables "live entertainment" is an over-reaction, but we're talking about twenty-five of them, hardly your neighborhood tavern.

    My zoning ordinance doesn't address this specifically, but has a provision for treating any non-specifically identified use similar to a listed use. I'd probably consider treating this the same as a bowling alley, which probably attacts a similar clientele, and amount of traffic (as well as a similar number of beer bellies, tattoos, etc.). Bowling alleys are often times a special/conditional use, which I've always assumed is because each one is so different in operation (number of bars, number of lanes, restaurant service, etc.). This seems very potentially similar in operations and traffic.

    Am I the only one here who thinks this was an appropriate way to deal with this?
    Last edited by dogandpony; 03 Oct 2005 at 12:09 PM.

  9. #9
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
    Jul 1998
    On the Mother River
    Quote Originally posted by dogandpony
    On first glance it seems like calling pool tables "live entertainment" is an over-reaction, but we're talking about twenty-five of them, hardly you're neighborhood tavern.
    You could use the same arguments to regulate TVs. 25 TVs in a bar would bring all of the negitives that the pool tables would. It sounds to me like they need a regulation based on the floor area and not the activities going on.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  10. #10
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries


    Put females on each table in very little or no clothing, with a high expectation of immediate payment and I would call that "live entertainment" Its all about the BOOZE, not the games
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  11. #11
    Oct 2004

    tiny zoning code

    it sounds like your zoning code is too small and the brain is attempting to force concepts where they don't belong. First look up the definition of live entertainment in your regs, if not there, use websters or some other acceptable outside source. There is usually some aspect of, "live performer" in this definition. I would consider a pool table a gaming device (same as a juke box or slot machine). Asinine side note, what would a karoke machine be and how is it similar or different from a pool table? Let's see, people come in and use it and people watch them using while being entertained. Oddly enough, I could see a place with a karoke machine as having..live entertainment.

  12. #12
    Jul 2005
    Hoboken, New Jersey
    It reminds me of an old, old reg here in New York where a bar needs a cabaret license that allows patrons to dance. Even if it's just a regular pub with a juke box, if yer hips are wigglin' then the bar is liable for a citation. Kind of silly but I've never seen it enforced.

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