Dance Club Cleveland
Attorney Maryann Chandler addresses Brunswick planning commission July 28, as her clients, OMG Teenz Dance Club, continue to seek a conditional zoning permit from the city.Brian Lisik/special to cleveland.com
BRUNSWICK - In their second attempt to obtain a conditional zoning permit in a month, Ivana Loncarevic and David Bongiovanni, owners of OMG Teenz Dance Club - 1067 Pearl Rd., in the Hickory Ridge Plaza - again left planning commission empty handed July 28.
The owners, represented by attorney Maryann Chandler, agreed to several conditions brought by planning commission at its July 7 meeting, including establishing the hours of operation to be 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., requiring age identification of those entering the club as being between 14 and 17 years old, a review of the conditional zoning permit after one year, and establishing that the conditional zoning permit would expire "at the transfer or sale of the business."
At issue, however, was the planning commission's request for a documented safety and security plan. The plan provided, a document consisting of the OMG Teenz Dance Club owners' answers to general safety and security-related questions from the Brunswick Police Department, was deemed incomplete by planning commission members.
Chandler said that after meeting with city and police department officials several times since April, her clients are still seeking direction with regard to a safety and security plan.
"Though it is not required by the (city) code, you've asked us to provide something (and) we've given you what we are willing to do, " she said.
Planning commission vice-chairman, Jeff Arona, pointed to a number of websites, including those of several police departments, which give templates of safety and security plans for nightclub establishments.
Assistant Law Director, Santo Incorvaia, said it is not the responsibility of the city or the police department to provide security plans for businesses, but rather likened the process to an applicant requesting a traffic study.
"When there is a traffic issue that impacts an applicant's business, they hire a traffic expert or engineer, " Incorvaia said. "It is not up to the city to provide the guidelines (of the safety study); that should come be provided by a certified security company. These questions (in the OMG Teenz Dance Club document) are just basic questions."
Loncarevic added that the company provided much of the security at the recent Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Chandler noted that this information, along with contact information for U.S. Security Associates operations manager, Brad Paynter, was included in a July 13 e-mail to Incorvaia, Brunswick Police Chief, Carl DeForest, Community and Economic Development Director, Grant Aungst, and Planning and Zoning Coordinator, Pam Plavecski.
Plaveckski acknowledged that the e-mail should have been included to planning commission for the meeting.
However, Paynter did not attend the planning commission meeting. Chandler again said that city officials were lacking in giving direction to her clients, adding that they have been unable to contract with the security company "until we know what we are permitted to do."
Council representative response
Some most pointed questioning came from city council representative, Nick Hanek, who brought up issues of drugs and child exploitation that are not addressed in the applicant's document, as well as taking issue with a statement that is in document that reads, "Mr. Bonglovanni (owner) will be in charge of the security plan and training."
"In your opinion, is that accurate (regarding) who will be providing security?" Hanek asked Chandler. "Does your client have any experience in security?"
Chandler replied that Bonglovanni does not, but would merely be acting as a "liaison" between the business and the security company, giving them information on things such as the floor plan of the club and points of entrance and exit.
Planning commission chairman, Joe Shirilla, said he would like the security company to provide at least an outline of how safety and security at the club would be addressed.
Chandler said this was the root of the issue.
"This is when it becomes a problem - when we ask four different people, 'what is a safety plan?' we get four different answers, " she said.
Brunswick Police Lt. Brian Ohlin, a 21-year veteran of the force who is in charge of operations, said he had not worked with, nor had any knowledge of U.S. Security Associates and said the department would be happy to consult with OMG Teenz Dance Club on a security plan.
Again, Chandler said that has not been the information she and her clients have been provided.
"I'm not trying to obfuscate here, but it was my understanding that the police would not take a role (in creating the security plan) because of liability, " she said.
Shirilla replied that Ohlin said the department would "consult, " which Chandler said she and her clients would welcome.
Leslie and Derek Russ, of Keller-Hanna Drive, said they support the opening of the club. Leslie Russ pointed out that such clubs have existed in the past and OMG Teenz Dance Club will provide a place where kids will be safe and "have something to do."
Donna Meyers, of Lake Meadow Lane, however, said that while she and her neighbors were not opposed to the idea of a teen club coming to town, the applicants' stated "closed circuit TV cameras in the parking lot" and "periodic parking lot patrols...conducted as needed" may not be enough if hundreds of patrons show up.
"If someone is told to leave, is that just to the door or (out of) the parking lot?" she asked.
Arlene Glovic, of Queens Avenue, said the rights of the many seniors who live in the area should also be considered.
"This looks like it is going to meet all your standards, but what about us?" Glovic said, stating noise and vandalism concerns. "It should not be in a residential area. It is a good thing if you can run it well, but I don't think it's the right place."
Shirilla replied that planning commission can put conditions on the business, but given that it is conditionally allowed in the location, OMG Teenz Dance Club cannot be forced to move elsewhere.
At the close of the meeting, Chandler asked that the conditional zoning permit be tabled and thanked the commission members, stating that she and her clients felt they now had better information with which to move forward with a formal safety and security plan.