Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Logger Legalities

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 3:44 PM

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
The City of Blue Lake will begin evaluating zoning, use permits and community impacts pertaining to the Logger Bar at tonight’s council meeting. Following a series of noise complaints by neighboring residents resulting from late night shows and reported public nuisance activities such as fighting and loud conversations in the neighboring parking lot after bar closure, the issue came before the council. Local residents turned out by the dozens to weigh in on the issue at the last city council meeting on Sept. 8, making clear the community is invested in the outcome.

Kate Martin, owner of the Logger Bar, is hoping for a reasonable resolution. Says Martin, “I want to be a good neighbor and help make it a good community.” She says she has taken steps to address the complaints, including closing the doors and windows during shows, and putting up cones in the parking lot to prevent noise after hours, but maintains that hosting late-night musical acts is vital to the economic viability of the bar. She adds that performers "are the financial bedrock of the business.” Martin says she would likely to sell the bar if music acts were not able to continue.

The Logger Bar is zoned as a commercial residential property, which would typically require a use permit that outlines specific allowable decibel levels for times of day. The bar, however, predates city zoning and is therefore not subject to current standards. This bureaucratic genealogy prevents a simple decision clearly outlined according to zoning. Instead, the city will be evaluating noise and nuisance impacts alongside a host of other considerations such as community impacts, economic development, and input from other entities including the sheriff’s department, the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), the fire department, and the city planning department.

Mayor Michele McCall-Wallace notes that to date all parties are interested in resolution, and tonight’s meeting will be the first step for city council to learn more and begin determining how best to address the issue.

“I think as a community we can come together and figure out a comprise,” says McCall-Wallace, “and we need the people who are immediately affected to be involved and we need the time to go through that process.”

The city manager has identified mediation, funneling noise complaints through the district attorney or ABC for judicial recourse, and the use of City Ordinance No. 457, a nuisance ordinance that can be applied regardless of the grandfather status of the bar, as possible courses of action to address the issue.

Whether or not the Logger Bar will be allowed to continue hosting live music remains unclear, although McCall-Wallace notes that the city is working to address the interests of all parties involved, and to date has not discussed disallowing live music.

“We have to think of everyone in the community,” says McCall-Wallace. “We have to take a look at all of these things to make a decision, I can’t say that one trumps another, there hasn’t been a discussion saying no music at the Logger Bar.”

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