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.