Following appeal, city planners again say East Lawrence bar cannot reopen
photo by: Kim Callahan
City planners have reaffirmed their decision that a longtime family-run tavern in East Lawrence can’t reopen because it let a special allowance lapse.
Planners determined in March that the former Charlie’s East Side Grill & Bar, 900 Pennsylvania St., had forfeited the grandfathered tavern use that had allowed it to operate despite zoning that disallowed such use. Members of the Del Campo family, who own the building and have operated the business for more than 30 years, appealed the decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The board voted last month that planners should reconsider their decision.
City planners recently reconsidered the application and determined yet again that the grandfathered tavern use — now bar/lounge use under the new zoning code — had been forfeited because the Del Campos had ceased operating the business for more than a year and therefore abandoned the use. The bar has been closed for about five years and has not had a liquor license, but the Del Campos said that during that time they had been making repairs and other improvements with the intention of reopening the bar. Board members wanted the Del Campos to provide additional documentation of that work so that planning staff could reconsider the decision.
Planning and Development Director Jeff Crick said that additional information about the work being done on the building was provided, but that the determination remained the same. Crick said that planners did not consider the work on the building to constitute continuation of the use. He said part of the definition of a bar is that the business sells alcohol, which requires a liquor license, and that maintaining the license was an integral part of the bar/lounge use.
“The work on the property is one thing, but there has to be something that meets that code use,” Crick said.
The property, which is across the street from the Warehouse Arts District in East Lawrence, is within the general industrial zoning district, which doesn’t allow the bar/lounge use. Members of the Del Campo family told the board in May that the business had lost its liquor license due in part to the condition of the building. They said they had always planned to reopen the bar and grill once repairs and other improvements were complete, but that financial troubles and other difficulties had caused delays.
Crick said the Del Campos can appeal the new determination again to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Materials submitted to the city indicate that the family is working with Adam Williams of Williams Management on the project. Williams did not immediately return a phone call from the Journal-World Friday afternoon regarding whether the decision would be appealed.