Owner, neighbors at odds over Lexington bar's future

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A police officer told the Board of Adjustment that disorderly incidents have increased in the area of Art Bar since April. Community members in the Chevy Chase area have called for the city to revoke Art Bar's permit. The owner, though, said he thinks the situation is unfair. He said part of the issue is that the Art Bar has been more successful than prior businesses here, so that's why there's more activity. He said he's willing to do whatever he needs to get along with the neighborhood.

Art Bar operates on a conditional use permit and must go through a review with the Board of Adjustment every six months. At the most recent review on July 25, there were several people from the Chevy Chase area expressing concern.

"It's like having your backyard filled with people yelling, screaming, peeling tires," said Peter Ecabert, of the Chevy Chase Condo Association.

They've asked the Board to revoke the bar's permit. Police say twice in the past month, there have been disorderly situations outside the bar with shots fired. They say disorders have increased in the past few months.

"We've had an assault that happened inside the club, assault with a bottle, we've had disorders that have happened right outside the front door," said Lexington Police Commander Melissa Sedlaczek.

Owner Gerald Mack, though, says he's doing what he can. He said he always calls police when he thinks there will be a big crowd.

"I was instructed directly from the head sergeant, Mr. Russell, to call them every time that I have a crowd that I think is going to be a big night," Mack said.

He also told the board he's hired cleanup crews to take care of any messes. He said he's a fair man and he'll do what it takes to get along with the neighborhood.

"I've only been here for three months and I'm willing to do whatever it is that I need to do to make sure that I'm at peace with the neighborhood," Mack said.

That board voted to move the bar's closing time from 2:30AM to 1:00AM and they'll hold a hearing on whether or not they should revoke the permit. Mack told the board moving his closing time would have a dramatic effect.

"From 11:00-12:00, you'd be happy to have fifty people. The other 250 people aren't coming until 1:00. It would be devastating to my business," Mack said.

The Board of Adjustment will meet for that revocation hearing next month.