The punk-rock venue in rural Douglas County has changed operators, but county officials are looking for ways to keep the building silent.
The Outhouse, a cinderblock home of punk rock music for some and an unsightly, loud nuisance for others, has a new operator and will have a facelift soon, the building's owner said today.
F.J. Rost, a Kansas University student and entrepreneur, filed corporation documents for "The Outhouse Inc." with the county's register of deed's office this morning.
Don Mellenbruch, a Lawrence landlord, owns the building four miles east of Massachusetts Street in rural Douglas County. Rost signed a four-year lease with Mellenbruch Monday.
"He's gonna improve the place, clean it up, make it a more controlled situation," Mellenbruch said.
Rost plans to continue using The Outhouse for private parties, Mellenbruch said, but will likely use buses for transportation, reducing traffic.
The "scene" will also shift away from punk rockers, he said.
"They're good kids," Mellenbruch said of the former clientele. "They tend to get destructive sometimes. Now they're going to be running around downtown rather than in the country."
Nearby farm owners have complained repeatedly to county commissioners about noise, traffic and other nuisances at The Outhouse. The complaints prompted Commissioner Jim Chappell to propose a countywide nuisance ordinance, which the commission approved 2-1 on June 16.
"I never have liked that place out there," Chappell said today.
The feeling is mutual. A largely misspelled sign posted on the establishment's gate after the vote read in part: "County Commissioners Jim Chappel and Mark Bhuler are ... using the Sherrifs Dept. to harrass Outhouse patrons to benefit their own facsist, bigoted political agenda."
According to minutes, Buhler was the only commissioner to vote against the nuisance resolution.
Chappell said county regulations might stop Mellenbruch from continuing any kind of entertainment in the building. Chappell asked the county zoning department to investigate.
Mellenbruch said the county should be happy with the change.
"I'm paying taxes for business property," he said. "I've got a grandfather clause that allows me to do what we're doing."
Rost, the new operator, could not be reached this morning for comment.