The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Board of Adjustment voted to revoke the Art Bar's conditional-use permit Friday after months of problems with other business owners and neighbors.
The club, which is nestled among restaurants, bars and small businesses in the 800 block of Euclid Avenue, has gotten a lot of attention recently because of reports of fights, loud noise, trash and shootings. Neighborhood associations have circulated petitions against the club.
On Friday, after 10 minutes of testimony, the board cited evidence from Lexington police, business owners, council members and neighbors in voting to revoke the bar's conditional-use permit that had allowed it to operate with certain stipulations.
The ruling is effective immediately, but the bar has 30 days to appeal in Fayette Circuit Court, said Derek Paulsen, commissioner of planning, preservation and development. If the owner appeals, the bar would have to remain closed unless the judge immediately rules otherwise when the documents are filed.
About 30 minutes before the hearing, Gerald Mack, owner of the Art Bar, requested a continuance because his attorney was out of town. The board denied the request.
Mack did not stay for the vote and declined further comment. He told the Herald-Leader last month that he is looking for a new location for the bar.
In an interview last month, Mack told the Herald-Leader that he wished the citizens in the Chevy Chase neighborhood would have given the bar a chance. He cited the lack of understanding of "subcultures" for the neighbors and bar being at odds.
On July 25, the board had changed part of the conditional-use permit to require the bar to close at 1 a.m. According to documents obtained by the Herald-Leader, police were called to the nightclub 40 times from July 26, 2013, through July 21, 2014. Police responded to shootings outside the nightclub on July 13 and Aug. 3.
During Friday's hearing, Sally Warfield, legislative aide to Third District councilwoman Diane Lawless, whose district includes Art Bar, most of downtown Lexington and the University of Kentucky, said the problems at the bar started years ago.
"We've had these problems going back for several years," she said. "If you require this many conditions to be able to function effectively in the area you're in, perhaps this is not the best area for that business to be in."
The board had approved a conditional-use permit for Sims Entertainment Group, LLC in October 2012 for the bar to operate as a nightclub with live entertainment and dancing. Among the conditions of the use was a six-month review. Other conditions included closing at 2:30 a.m., off-site parking and no one under 21 being allowed into the club.
The board's decision generated a round of applause in City Hall chambers from neighbors of the club.
Peter Ecaberet, president of the Chevy Chase Condo Association, said the Art Bar has become a public nuisance and has disrupted the quiet nature of the neighborhood because of fights and patrons honking horns.
"We're glad the conditional use was revoked, because we'd like to see something that would be more compatible with the neighborhood ... they just haven't been a good neighbor," he said.