Superior’s City Council could have chosen not to renew a liquor and beer license Tuesday, June 15, for Lady Vi’s, 628 Tower Ave.
Instead, councilors approved an agreement reached with co-owner Norman O’Pack, who owns the business with ViAnn Rask.
The license came under scrutiny after a failed attempt to license 628 Tower Ave., as Allure Cabaret. Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander recommended denying the liquor and beer license because the agent on the application is on probation with conditions that prohibit entry in a licensed establishment; and one of the partners in Allure Cabaret, Lamont Hines, had recently been arrested on charges of possession of narcotics and of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“Both the drugs and firearms were located inside Lady Vi’s, where Hines was employed,” Alexander wrote in a memo explaining why the license should be denied.
The council never took formal action to deny the Allure Cabaret license but did accept City Clerk Terri Kalan’s June 1 recommendation to schedule a hearing for nonrenewal of Lady Vi’s liquor license.
“We determined there was likely enough history with this establishment to justify presenting to you folks the idea of nonrenewing their license,” City Attorney Frog Prell said. Liquor licenses run from July 1 to June 30 the following year.
Since 2014, there have been 191 police calls for service at Lady Vi’s, Alexander said.
For Alexander, a key component of the issue is that people who run the establishment have recently been charged with crimes.
Councilor Brent Fennessey questioned whether the drugs were intended for personal use or sale.
“Based on quantity and packaging, I think it’s fair to say it was likely meant for sale,” Alexander said at Tuesday's meeting.
Mayor Jim Paine said city officials don't have enough evidence to prove drugs were actually being sold over the bar.
Prell said the city was approached by O’Pack and his attorney, Parrish Jones. Officials engaged in discussions that led to the three-page agreement signed by O’Pack and Parrish Jones that was presented to councilors Tuesday night.
Under the terms of the agreement, Lady Vi’s was shut down Friday, June 11. Before the business can reopen, no earlier than 9 a.m. Sept. 11, several conditions placed on the business must be met. They include not employing Hines and another individual in any capacity or allowing them on the premises at any time. O’Pack agreed to submit names and birthdates of employees for background checks and to deny employment to those who do not qualify, giving the city a voice in hiring at Lady Vi’s.
Paine said the dancers who perform adult entertainment at Lady Vi’s are not subject to background checks. The dancers are independent contractors, rather than employees, Paine said. In talking to experts in human trafficking, he learned background checks on the dancers could be detrimental to the women, who may have been traumatized in the past.
Other conditions include displaying anti-human trafficking posters that reference the National Human Trafficking Hotline and seeking anti-human trafficking training at their own expense; meeting monthly with a designated member of the police department to discuss compliance issues; working with police to curb guns, drugs and disturbances; and designating staff for litter control.
Failing to adhere to the agreement could result in the immediate revocation of the liquor license without an administrative hearing.
“You’re effectively revoking the license unless they meet every one of these terms,” Paine explained to the council.
“I think they understand the thinness of the ice they’re on,” Prell said.
After a 15-minute recess so councilors could review the agreement, councilors split 8-2 to renew the license subject to the terms of the agreement.
Councilors Brent Fennessey and Craig Sutherland voted against the conditional renewal.
Fennessey initially said he liked the idea of the agreement, but after further thought said it is the equivalent of the city “babysitting” the establishment and was beyond the scope of the city’s responsibilities.