Ann Arbor officials asking state not to renew Dream Nite Club's liquor license
Ann Arbor officials are fighting to keep the Dream Nite Club from getting its liquor license renewed by the state following a string of problems with the downtown bar.
The Ann Arbor City Council voted 8-0 Monday night in favor of a resolution recommending non-renewal of the club's license to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
The council's resolution is being forwarded to the state along with a statement of findings and the recommendation of the city's liquor license hearing officer, Tony Derezinski, a retired attorney who serves as a 2nd Ward representative on the City Council.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
The council's resolution states that the Dream Nite Club's liquor license is not being used in accordance with the Ann Arbor City Code or the Michigan Liquor Code.
City officials are objecting to renewal of the liquor license for what they consider to be repeated violations of the state liquor law, including allowing fights and the improper use of weapons on the premises of the business, which was previously known as Studio 4.
Derezinski released his statement of findings following Monday's hearing, referencing "a pattern of patron conduct in the neighborhood of the licensed premises which is in violation of the law and/or disturbs the peace, order and tranquility of the neighborhood" and "numerous police contact with licensed premises or the patrons of the premises."
A representative of the club could not be reached for comment Monday night.
The club was represented by two attorneys during Monday's hearing. They presented no witnesses but did cross-examine the city's witnesses and presented arguments, while evidence against the club was presented through the testimony of police officers and police reports.
Derezinski noted objections to the license renewal also were voiced by the city's administration and the city's Liquor License Review Committee.
"It's their final decision," Derezinski said of the state commission. "We merely make our recommendation with the supporting documents that we relied on."
Ann Arbor police investigated a report of shots fired outside the Dream Nite Club early Sunday but found no evidence of a shooting.
Still, the club has had its share of violent incidents in the past year, including a stabbing on the dance floor and a shooting in a nearby parking lot.
City Attorney Stephen Postema said the city's nuisance lawsuit seeking to shut down the club is still pending in Washtenaw County Circuit Court but he wasn't able to discuss the case.
That suit claims police received more than 200 calls at the business since September 2007, responding to liquor violations, disorderly conduct cases and assaults. In separate incidents last May, three people were stabbed in the club and fighting broke out inside and outside that resulted in a man being shot in a neighboring parking lot.
The club filed a motion asking Judge Melinda Morris to stop the case on the basis that the club had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, but Morris denied the club's request.
The owners of Dream, Jeffrey Mangray and his son Vickash Mangray of Ypsilanti, filed a $3 million lawsuit against the city of Ann Arbor in January. The owners say officials have made false allegations of illegal activity at the business, subjected it to heightened scrutiny by police and harassed it because its owners and customers are racially diverse.
As of now, both the city's nuisance case against the club and the club's federal civil rights lawsuit against the city still pending. The city has filed a motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit brought by the club and a court hearing on that matter is set for May 30.
The Dream Nite Club is one of two troubled downtown establishments that Ann Arbor officials have spent considerable efforts fighting in recent years. The other, The Fifth Quarter nightclub on Fifth Avenue, officially closed last spring.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.