Com­edy club on hold for now

Lack of ad­e­quate park­ing at the site raised as an ob­jec­tion

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

Plans to open a com­edy club on Wash­ing­ton Street are in­def­i­nitely on hold though the owner of the prop­erty still hopes his dream will be­come a re­al­ity.

Jimmy Clark, who is a Demo­cratic can­di­date for the Dis­trict 3 com­mis­sion seat, asked at the March 11 Cov­ing­ton Plan­ning Com­mis­sion meet­ing that a re­zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tion for prop­erty he owns on 3192 Wash­ing­ton Street be tabled un­til a num­ber of de­tails con­cern­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment of the prop­erty into a com­edy club are worked out.

“We’re still plan­ning on do­ing it,” said Clark. “We’re just try­ing to work with the cur­rent di­rec­tor of plan­ning and zon­ing (Michelle Stiebling) so that we can go ahead and make sure that we cross all of our ‘t’s and dot all of our ‘i’s to her lik­ing so that we can go ahead and get on with it.”

Clark said it is his in­ten­tion for the com­edy club to serve both food and al­co­hol. Clark said the club would be open for lunch and din­ner and would close at 1 a.m. The club would be closed on Mon­days and Tues­days he said. Co­me­di­ans will go on­stage at 7 p.m.

Clark said he and his busi­ness part­ner, Earnest Sims, hope to see the com­edy club open for busi­ness this sum­mer. Clark said the ma­jor ob­sta­cles re­main­ing to be worked out with the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion con­cern find­ing ad­di­tional park­ing spa­ces for the club.

At a Plan­ning Com­mis­sion meet­ing in Jan­uary, Stiebling rec­om­mended Clark’s spe­cial use pe­ti­tion to al­low a com­edy club in a Com­mu­nity Com­mer­cial zon­ing dis­trict be de­nied. The com­mis­sion agreed with Stiebling and unan­i­mously voted to deny the pe­ti­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­utes from the meet­ing, Stiebling said ap­prov­ing the pe­ti­tion would not set a good prece­dent for the city be­cause the city’s or­di­nance does not al­low a restau­rant use in a C-C dis­trict.

Clark ar­gued that his prop­erty should be given a re­zon­ing of High­way Com­mer­cial, a zon­ing which al­lows for restau­rants, be­cause the prop­erty is al­ready half-zoned H-C in the back. The prop­erty is zoned C-C in the front where the com­edy club would be lo­cated.

A lack of ad­e­quate park­ing was raised as an ob­jec­tion to the com­edy club. Clark said the club would sit ap­prox­i­mately 150 to 200 guests. Stiebling es­ti­mated the club would need 100 park­ing spots to sup­port such a crowd which it cur­rently does not have

On Fri­day Clark said he was work­ing to find ad­di­tional park­ing for the club which he said was one of the ma­jor is­sues that needed to be ad­dressed be­fore his pe­ti­tion could re­ceive ap­proval by the city.

When Clark’s pe­ti­tion came be­fore the Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil dur­ing the coun­cil’s first Fe­bru­ary meet­ing, three coun­cil mem­bers spoke out in fa­vor of the pe­ti­tion. While the city coun­cil did not ap­prove the pe­ti­tion, they did vote in fa­vor of send­ing it back to the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion for re­con­sid­er­a­tion.

One of the chief ob­jec­tions raised to the pe­ti­tion — that a com­edy club, op­er­at­ing dur­ing late hours of the night, would be a dis­tur­bance to the peo­ple liv­ing in close prox­im­ity to it — does not ap­pear to hold up.

The com­edy club would be lo­cated across the street from the Sand­hill Com­mu­nity, a his­tor­i­cally black neigh­bor­hood lo­cated off of Wash­ing­ton Street. Three of the four coun­cil mem­bers who voted in fa­vor of send­ing the pe­ti­tion back for re­con­sid­er­a­tion are black: Hawnethia Wil­liams, Janet Good­man and Ocie Franklin.

“I’d like us to find a way to work with th­ese young men in­stead of kick­ing them to the curb,” said Wil­liams at the meet­ing.

Clark said he has only heard pos­i­tive things from the Sand­hill Com­mu­nity on his pro­posal to open a com­edy club.

“Ev­ery­one that I’ve talked to is very proud and happy that we would bring such an es­tab­lish­ment like that, that would bring tax rev­enue and jobs to our pro­gres­sive city,” Clark said.

A group of Sand­hill res­i­dents in­ter­viewed on Fri­day all said they had no prob­lem with a com­edy club open­ing up across the street from them. The only con­cern raised was the de­sire that the club have ad­e­quate se­cu­rity guards.

“We would love to have a com­edy club,” said Sharon Strong, who lives in Sand­hill. “We need some ex­cite­ment in Cov­ing­ton. We have noth­ing go­ing on, this side of town.

Mae White said she thought a com­edy club would be a good thing for the neigh­bor­hood.

“I like to have a good time,” said White. “We need to have some­where to go.”

Added Bobby Hodges, “It’s good for the neigh­bor­hood, we’ve got to have a place to min­gle.”

Clark said he has been ap­proached by res­i­dents of Sand­hill want­ing to know if they could find em­ploy­ment with the club once it opens.

“I went door-to-door and peo­ple have come up to me as well be­cause I wanted to get a sense of what the com­mu­nity wanted and to see if they think this would be a vi­able busi­ness and I had a very fa­vor­able re­sponse,” Clark said.

Clark said he en­vi­sioned his club as a slightly-up­scale es­tab­lish­ment at­tract­ing na­tion­al­lyrenowned co­me­di­ans.

“We’ll be get­ting acts na­tion­wide not just lo­cal tal­ent,” Clark said. “We’ll be get­ting tal­ent as far as Cal­i­for­nia.”

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