Groveport wont block liquor permit transfer

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Despite concerns about an increase in incidents at a local bar, Groveport Village Council came up short in its vote to oppose the transfer of a liquor permit for the Groveport Lounge from Combo Enterprises to Philip A. Riner.

At its Aug. 27 meeting, council voted 4-2 to oppose the liquor permit transfer. However, the action to oppose the transfer failed because five votes were needed to pass the legislation as an emergency. Emergency action was necessary in order to file the village’s opposition in time to meet the requirements for a hearing before the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. Council members Donna Drury, Jean Ann Hilbert, Jim Staebler, and Jan Stoots voted to oppose the permit transfer while Ed Rarey and Ed Dildine did not.

Council had attempted to block the permit transfer based on an increase in incidents at the bar. Police Chief Gary York reported to council at its Aug. 20 committee of the whole meeting that he did not support the permit transfer because, "The Groveport Police Department has experienced a significant increase in activity at the Groveport Lounge (while under its current management)…over six pages of reported incidents have been compiled since January 2007 compared to only one page for the entire year of 2006."

According to police records, the incidents include fights, disorderly conduct, drunkenness, traffic offenses, suspicious persons, assaults, and burglar alarm responses.

Riner, speaking at the Aug. 27 council meeting, noted he has lived in Groveport for 36 years and is "here to stay." He said it is his intention to make the Groveport Lounge "a nice place" and that he has spent money on improving security.

"I’ll do whatever it takes," said Riner regarding cooperating with the village and improving his business.

Rarey reminded Riner that when Riner took over the lounge he had promised Rarey that he would "keep it clean."

Riner noted that several of the instances on the six pages of reported incidents were for his burglar alarm going off. He said these were security system mistakes and that there have been no burglaries at the Groveport Lounge.

Regarding the other incidents listed by the police, Riner said, "I try to keep a lid on it, but I can’t be everywhere at all times. Once they’re (customers) out the door they’re out of my hands."

"Something needs to change," Staebler told Riner.

Since it did not have the five votes to take action objecting to the liquor transfer, council indefinitely postponed the resolution.

Rarey said he voted against the resolution because, "I didn’t think anything council could do would have any impact on the commission’s (Ohio Division of Liquor Control) decision."

The decision on whether or not to allow the liquor permit transfer is up to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. Riner is currently operating the Groveport Lounge, located at 296 Main St., with a liquor permit under a management agreement with Combo Enterprises.

Dildine stated, "I think now that he (Riner) has been granted the opportunity to see the police records, he has a chance to clean up what’s going on before his permit comes up for renewal later. We will keep a watchdog eye on what happens at the Groveport Lounge and when his renewal comes up we (council) will act accordingly."

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