A decision by the Dixon Planning Commission to permit a new whiskey bar on North First Street was met with opposition, as a resident sent a letter to the city appealing the commission’s decision. This call will be presented to City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.
In late 2021, husband and wife Mickey Renger and Tiffany Fabiani applied for a conditional use license for Whiskey Barrel 707 Lounge and Pub which will be located in the vacant Bank of America building on the corner of North First and East B, which Associate Planner Scott Greeley described in a previous staff report as the largest unoccupied space in downtown Dixon.
Renger and Fabiani’s vision for Whiskey Barrel is for a lounge and bar that will serve as a venue for touring artists and will also host a 1940s-style cigar lounge, cornhole tournaments, parties karaoke, televised sporting events and UFC Fight Night, comfort food and appetizer menu, terrace for brunch and more. Suggested hours of operation are noon to 2 a.m. daily with live music scheduled from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The project was presented to the commission at its March 8 meeting, and the commission voted 6 to 1 to approve the conditional use permit. The only opposing vote came from Commissioner Loraine Hernandez-Covello, who supported the project as a whole but felt that further consideration was needed on the design of the outdoor space.
On March 18, resident Ginger Emerson — both individually and on behalf of a group called Old Town Neighbors — sent a letter regarding an appeal about the project. Emerson argued that the commission’s public hearing violated Brown’s Law regarding the project description and questioned whether any written comments were made within the public record, the proposed use violated the order of zoning, reviews by the police and fire departments were based on the labeling of the project as a pub and lounge and did not take into consideration the use or concentration of liquor licenses in the centre- city, downtown has an undue concentration of liquor licenses, and no design review or findings have been made to support the proposed exterior modifications to the building.
In a protest letter to the Department of Liquor Control, Emerson also wrote that Whiskey Barrel would be located within walking distance of two churches, including Calvary Chapel a few blocks away, a park, a library and the college. John Knight.
“As a former teacher. I am concerned for the welfare of children in the entire community, but I am particularly concerned about the influence of another liquor store on children living in or near downtown Dixon,” she said. writing. “Are parents trying to instill moral values in their children supposed to forbid them to go to the park or the library or just ride their bikes or walk along B Street past the Whiskey Barrel to access at the underpass?”
The staff report included two additional protest letters, one from resident Deborah Allen and the other from an anonymous author.
For Emerson’s first point, Community Development Manager Raffi Boloyan wrote that the Planning Commission’s notice of hearing was published in two local newspapers and mailed to landowners within 300 feet.
“This notice was published in two local newspapers and mailed to property owners within 300 feet,” he wrote. “The notice accurately describes the address of the project, the requested fee for a use permit, the type of hearing that would be conducted, the date/time/location of the hearing, how to participate and how submit comments. The notice also clearly provides the name. project planner’s phone and email, encouraging anyone to contact the planner with questions. or someone wants to review the plans before the meeting.
Boloyan also wrote that no written comments were received for the item when the staff report was finalized and posted online, and comments received after the report was copied and posted to the commission were included in the staff report for Tuesday’s board meeting.
Regarding use, Emerson argued that the business should be considered a nightclub and would therefore be subject to an overlay of assembly and unauthorized use on the site.
In response, Boloyan wrote that the definition of assembly use “makes it clear that assembly use should not include use where people typically arrive/leave at varying times”.
“As proposed, this facility would be open 14 hours a day, and during most of that time patrons came and went as they pleased,” he wrote. “Therefore classification as a nightclub does not conform to the zoning ordinance definition and classification of use as a pub/lounge is appropriate for the use.”
In response to Emerson’s claim that the police, fire and engineering department reviews were based on a ‘mischaracterization’ of the property as a pub and lounge, Boloyan included memoranda from the chiefs of the three departments, which indicated that they “clearly understood the use. evaluated it in accordance with each department’s applicable codes, regulations or outlook and provided appropriate comments which were addressed by plan revisions or terms of reference. ‘approval,’ according to the report.
Responding to the claim that there was an overconcentration of liquor licenses in the area, Boloyan wrote that the city does not have the authority to issue liquor licenses, as this falls under the Department of Liquor Control. and drinks (ABC).
Even then, Boloyan wrote that ABC had determined that there was no excessive licensing concentration.
“For this census tract. they identify that there are 8 licenses for sale authorized and there are 5 for sale in the leaflet,” he wrote. “That decision is up to ABC to make and if there are any issues or concerns with the data or its reports, these should be directed to ABC.”
Regarding the last point that the design review was not done and conclusions were not made to support the exterior changes to the building, Boloyan wrote that the scope of the proposed exterior changes is was limited to sitting an enclosed outdoor meeting space and potentially a new paint job, which he wrote was not significant enough to warrant a design review.
If future changes are deemed substantial, Boloyan wrote that this would trigger a requirement for the Planning Commission to review the proposed changes.
Staff recommends that Council dismiss the appeal and uphold the Board’s decision.
In other business, Fire Chief Todd McNeal will present the Fire Department’s annual report and Council will consider approving the process for changing the governance structure of the Solano Community Action Partnership.
The board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 600 EA St. The meeting can also be viewed online at Cityofdixon.us/MeetingAgendasMinutesVideos.