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Friday, April 30th, 2010

Celina council objects renewal of liquor license for Club Oasis

By William Kincaid
CELINA - Celina City Council is objecting to the renewal of the liquor license for Club Oasis, 201 S. Main St., due to regular occurrences of disorderly conduct at the bar according to city officials.
All council members, except Angie King, voted yes to a resolution that asks the Division of Liquor Control to reject the application to renew the liquor permit. King abstained from the vote, saying her husband's company does work for the owner, Christopher T. Wendel Enterprises LLC.
The resolution states that Wendel has operated his liquor permit business "in a manner that demonstrates a disregard for the laws, regulations or local ordinances."
The resolution also states that Celina Police Department is asking city council to request a public hearing on the license with the Division of Liquor Control. The liquor license must be renewed each year, according to Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser.
This is only the second time Celina Law Director Kevin McKirnan has processed a request to deny a liquor license for a business, McKirnan told city council members during a meeting this week.
Slusser said officers are called to Club Oasis almost every weekend, while McKirnan said there have been an excessive number of violations at the business.
"We asked for a hearing to present evidence to determine if the license should be rejected," Slusser told the newspaper. "We have a lot of problems with fights, disorderly conduct, underage drinking."
Since 1997, the Celina Police Department has handled 985 reports from 201 S. Main St. (the location has always been a bar, and for the last several years, Club Oasis), Slusser said.
Wendel told the newspaper he had no idea council members intended to proceed with action against his bar.
"I was shocked Monday night when I received a call after the city council meeting informing me that the Celina Police Department had raised a motion to object to the renewal of Club Oasis's liquor license," Wendel wrote in an e-mail to the newspaper. "I was given no indication or notice that such a motion was even being considered."
Wendel said in the five years that he has owned the club, there have been no underage drinking violations or smoking violations. Also, he said the club has never had a patron or any employee subjected to any drug related offenses.
"We have had an open door policy with the Celina Police Department and have welcomed their walk-thrus on a regular basis," he wrote. "I felt like I was working in conjunction with the Celina Police Department to help keep the bar business clean in our community.
Furthermore, I have recently sold Club Oasis and the money is being held in escrow at Cisco Realty waiting for the liquor license to be transferred," he continued. "Now, however, with this motion, the transaction cannot move forward until the issue is resolved. According to my attorney, resolving this will take upwards to six months."
Wendel did not say who was planning to buy Club Oasis.
At this week's meeting, city councilman June Scott said Wendel should have a chance to rectify the problems.
"This is just the first step to try to deal with the problem," McKirnan said of requesting a hearing to object to the liquor license. He added that this is not an unusual process in larger cities, which deal with several objections to renewals of liquor licenses.
Slusser said there have been attempts to revamp and remodel Club Oasis over the years to change the kind of patrons coming in, all of which have failed.
Councilman Ed Jeffries said he wondered how many jobs could be lost if the business loses its liquor permit.
A public hearing - likely in Celina - will be scheduled by the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Liquor Control, Slusser said.
According to the state organization, one of its attorneys will serve as the hearing officer and conduct the hearing and forward a report with a recommendation to the division's superintendent.
The superintendent will make a final decision to sustain or overrule the objection based on points of law. The permit holder or applicant will have 30 days from the decision to appeal to the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.
Additional online story on this date
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