A central Lawrence nightclub on Friday was ordered to pay the city $11,500 and will be fined $100 per day if it doesn’t stop operating illegally, a judge ruled Friday.
Club Axis has been violating a court order since December, by continuing to operate the club at 821 Iowa against a judge’s order and in violation of city law. The club, also known as 821 Club, is operating without an approved number of parking spaces.
“I don’t know why that is so hard or difficult to grasp,” Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone said during a court hearing on Friday.
Brian Johnson, an attorney for the club, has claimed that the city is just on a mission to shut the establishment down because of multiple shootings and stabbings that police have connected to the bar, which was previously known as Moon Bar. The city has denied Johnson’s claims.
The club will have a 15-day grace period to comply before a $100 per day fine kicks in.
Malone on Friday also ordered the owners and operators of the club to reimburse the city for $11,500 in attorney’s fees it’s racked up in the case.
If Club Axis doesn’t quit operating as a nightclub within 30 days, without having an approved site plan on file with the city, Malone said he would consider additional penalties.
Jerry Cooley, the city’s attorney in the case, has suggested that the owners and operators could be jailed for not complying with the court’s order, which prompted the court hearing.
The lawsuit lists Christopher Windler, Fred Windler, Qing Ling Wang and Xin Li Liu as defendants in the case.
Johnson said the club believes it has done nothing wrong, because it is not allowing any more people inside the establishment than were allowed at the Moon Bar.
“Any acts that we failed to do were not done with malice,” Johnson said.
City leaders have made it clear that zoning ordinances have changed since the establishment operated as Moon Bar. Because the occupancy level of the bar has increased and the intended use of the club has changed from a bar to a nightclub, the establishment is required to have more parking.
The city gave the club multiple options for coming into compliance with city code, but it never did. After the judge’s latest ruling, Cooley said the city was willing to sit down with the club to review options.