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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • That's What I Think: Council faced with problem it helped create

  • What is going on here? Why is a councilman threatening to shut down a local business? Is his anger justified? Or should he apologize to the businessman?
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  • Councilman Tony Bahr erupted in anger Monday night at Fat Cats entrepreneur Josh Noe.
    “We need to shut you down, buddy,” Bahr said to Noe, biting off that last word. “If I get my way, that’s what we’re going to do.”
    What is going on here? Why is a councilman threatening to shut down a local business? Is his anger justified? Or should he apologize to the businessman?
    Here’s the way I see it: Bahr is not alone in his impatience with Noe, and he is entirely justified to be angry, but he shouldn’t have lashed out at Noe and he should apologize.
    In addition, the council ought to apologize to the neighbors of the night club because this situation is the result of mismanagement of the situation by the council.
    Bahr told Noe Monday night that the council had told him that the property was not suitable for what he was doing, and that is true. Nevertheless, the council worked over several months with Noe on zoning and rezoning to assure that he could sell alcohol.
    For awhile, Noe appeared to me to be breaking the law regarding the sale of alcohol. He was selling booze by the drink with his restaurant license, but he didn’t have a restaurant.
    City Councilman Jim Williams questioned that and accused Noe of “backdooring” his way into the bar business.
    Later Councilman Don Morris expressed his extreme displeasure with Noe, saying that it was clear that Noe had turned the so-called family entertainment center into nothing more than a bar.
    Noe has said all along that he is offering something new, a family entertainment complex, with activities for the children during the day and early evening and entertainment for the adults in the night. The entertainment for adults is necessary to raise the money to offer the children’s activities, he said.
    From the start, there were complaints about noise emanating from the night-time activities when Fat Cats turned into a night club. Jim Corey has been the main complainant. He says that after working hard all day, his evenings are wrecked by the noise from Fat Cats.
    Corey told the council about the noise problems all along, but the council continued to work toward the goal of getting Noe set up in the bar business.
    Over the months, there were complaints about noise, but Noe returned to the council to tell them of the new steps he had taken to alleviate the problems. He sometimes apologized for evenings that he said were mistakes and inexcusable, and pledged to make sure those would not be repeated.
    I can understand why Bahr burst out with his anger. Noe’s presentation Monday night followed the template he used at previous appearances before the council.
    Page 2 of 2 - Now, though, Noe said the majority of the neighbors have no problem with the business, and he claimed to have a list of signatures. I have no reason to doubt that, but I suspect that when some of those who signed are faced with selling their property and they find that the number of buyers is diminished because of the neighboring entertainment complex, they will change their tunes.
    I have no idea how this situation will play out or how it should play out. I can understand Bahr’s anger, but putting Noe out of business is not right or fair, especially when the council bent over backward to help set him up in business. I can understand Corey’s complaint, too.
    Maybe Mayor Magdits and the administration and the legal staff will come up the solution. It seems right and fair that the city should find a solution to the problem they helped create.

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