• July 30, 2014

Heights sues karaoke bar

City denied request for rezoning, expansion

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013 4:30 am

HARKER HEIGHTS — The city is suing a local bar for allegedly violating zoning laws.

Harker Heights recently filed a suit against the owner of Private Mic’s Karaoke, a bar and pool hall at 116 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Harker Heights. The city is seeking damages of $100,000 or less for breaking zoning laws.

The city names the two owners of the bar, Jong S. Yi and Isphani Hosein, as defendants in the suit.

According to court documents filed Monday, the Harker Heights City Council granted a zoning variance for the business in May 2010 in order to allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages.

In May, Yi applied to rezone the strip mall office next to Private Mic’s to allow for expansion. On July 10, the council unanimously denied the application, the lawsuit states.

However, on March 14, a city code inspector determined that the owners had expanded the bar without permission. The owners contend they have not violated any laws, the lawsuit states.

The city is asking the 169th District Court to shut down operations at the bar indefinitely, believing that the owners will continue to operate illegally in the unzoned portion of the bar.

Burk Roberts, attorney for Harker Heights in the suit, stated in an email that the $100,000 figure comes from a recent change in civil law where expressed damages are divided into “brackets” in order to make smaller lawsuits move more quickly.

The $100,000 and lower bracket is the lowest dollar amount in the tiers, documents from the Supreme Court of Texas state.

When contacted, the owners of Private Mic’s said they expanded their business after the business next door closed down. They rented the office and began making preparations for creating a room with four new pool tables.

Yi said he was given no reason when his request to rezone the 688-square-foot area was declined.

“Yeah, I break the law, but I didn’t hurt anybody,” Yi said. “I don’t see any reason why they would say no to me.”

Hosein said that without the expansion, they may go out of business.

More about

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

9 comments:

  • lilbus posted at 1:05 pm on Mon, Apr 15, 2013.

    lilbus Posts: 1

    I am one of the owners of Private Mic's. I just wanted to tell the whole story. My business partner and I came up with the idea of Private Mic's back in 2010. At the time, I had no idea about all the things and processes we had to go through to open Private Mic's. The first thing we did was rent out the space. We were told that the building had to be rezoned in order to serve alcohol. At the time we didn't think it was a big deal, since we are right in the middle of the Bar strip in Harker heights. So, we were actually shocked when rezoning was denied and we would have to wait 6 months to try again. So, we was stuck paying rent, but unable to open for 6 months. When we went the second time, one of the city officials, Tommy, realized that we were not a typical bar that required 1 parking space for every 30 sq. feet(net). He decided that we were more like a pool hall, or Dave and Busters, since the karaoke rooms took up more than half of our space. So, we was put under the catagory "Commercial indoor Amusement," which requires 1 parking space for every 75 sq. feet(net) So, the rezoning was approved this time and an additional 17 parking spots would have to be striped in the back of the building as part of the agreement. We had the back striped that weekend. The city officials were concerned that we might knock the walls down, or if we go out of business, the new tennents might try to open a full scale bar. Tommy assured them that only businesses such as a bowling alley or pool hall could be at this location because of the parking requirements. So, as time went on, as expected, making a profit was very hard. The karaoke rooms did not take off as quickly as we had hoped. The only thing we could think of doing was to rent out the space next to us if it became available. So when next door became available, we rented it out. We really didn't want to take a chace on it being rented out to someone else. So we rented it out and we went to the P&Z commission once again. We, really thought that it was going to be a formality since we just wanted to put 4 more pool tables in the new suite. Again, we were in for a big surprise. We were unanimously turned down, and we were not even given a reason why. So, there we were, struggling and now having to pay extra rent for office space we couldn't even use. So, the way things were going, we would have to close up Private Mic's a few months before we could even ask permission to add the 4 pool tables. So, we decided to open the officespace anyway, and put the 4 pool tables in. It was a lot of work to do this. We had to knock down the seperating wall and it was quite an ordeal. My partner and I worked all night after closing for about 2 weeks straight because we couldn't afford to hire anyone. There was over 16 tons of wall debris we had to dispose of in the Temple landfield. We were not trying to hurt anyone, we were just trying to survive. The addition has helped us get closer to breaking even. It has helped us to stay in business. Without it, we would have to shut down. Sometimes I hear we don't have enough parking spots. On our busiest nights the parking in front has never been filled up, and we still have the 17 parking spots in the back of the building. Not 1 time have we even had to tell the customers about the parking spots in the back because the ones in the front never gets filled up. So, i believe its very messed up to use not enough parking spots as a reason to turn us down for rezoning. To address the comment by proud mother of an avi8ter. " if an employee steals money from us, yea they break the law but didn't hurt anyone" This statement is false because they would be hurting us. My business partner was not trying to be arrogant in saying we didn't hurt anybody. I mean, how did we hurt anyone? How did we hurt the city of Harker Heights? We helped 3 families survive, mine, my business partner, and the property owner who has 6 suites, and we are her only tenants. Not to mention the employees of Private Mic's and the City of Harker Heights, who I am sure gets some portion of the taxes we pay. I find it kind of Ironic that the city wants to sue us so apparently harshly without a warning. In sept 2010, the last time there was major flooding in the area, my business partner and I along with 2 friends almost died because of negligence of the city of Harker Heights.(I have proof, (911) recordings.) We could have easily sued, but we chose to just let it go. I really thought that the City Officials were there to help the people of the community. I can honestly say that since I started to process of opening Private Mic's, sadly I have never felt like they were trying to help me out, just the opposite. Right now, there goal is to hurt 3 families along with employees of Private Mic's, because of 4 pool tables. I know if everything was black and white. we broke the law and we must suffer the consequences. I would think we are smart enough to use reason and common sense. Am I asking too much?

     
  • Viktor posted at 12:50 am on Sun, Apr 14, 2013.

    Viktor Posts: 316

    So M. Griz, there's a "difference" between breaking a zoning regulation and getting your rezoning request approved just because you happen to be somebody's buddy? Interesting viewpoint you got there. So by that logic, if this case was involving someone's buddy then would Harker Heights be filing a lawsuit? Don't get me started on examples of breaking zoning regulations. It'll just be giving away too much info. that's been filed away in memory dating back to when this area was a bunch of dirt roads. Melanie makes some excellent points.

     
  • Eliza posted at 7:27 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 654

    @ I feel that Mr. Yi was made out to sound very ignorant.
    --------

    I feel that Mr Yi wasn't made out to sound ignorant in the article,
    but he did make himself sound arrogant with his statement of ,
    “Yeah, I break the law but I didn’t hurt anybody,” Yi said

     
  • Melanie posted at 5:16 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Melanie Posts: 1

    Let’s gather the “facts” and then evaluate. Private Mic’s was opened back in 2011. At that time, the owners went through the process of legally obtaining permission from the City to re-zone the building so that alcohol could be served. Permission was granted. Months later, the owners decided to expand the business and in order to do so, rented out the space right next door. At this time, the owners requested permission from the city to expand and was denied. The owners continued the expansion without permission.

    There are many businesses that serve alcohol on the same street. Why are these businesses permitted to serve alcohol yet Private Mic’s denied the right? Also, the city initially granted Private Mic’s permission to serve alcohol and denied the request to serve alcohol right next door. I’m not sure I understand the logic.
    I totally agree with Viktor’s comments. I think that a reasonable fine is understandable because the law was broken. However, I also think that the city representatives should be questioned as to what their true intentions were in denying the permit. I feel that there are a lot of politics that go on with granting and denying permits and the good ole’ boy system is often in play.

    The article also rubbed me the wrong way because I feel that Mr. Yi was made out to sound very ignorant. I think that foreigners are often portrayed unfairly because they don’t speak English very well and they have a difficult time expressing themselves. I hope that someday there will be responsible reporting where both sides are fairly represented.

     
  • Mamma Griz posted at 3:30 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Mamma Griz Posts: 237

    Viktor:: Give me an example of laws being broken in regards to zoning. If there were any, I just bet the guilty party had to pay a fine-- and correct it. There is a difference between breaking a zoning regulation and getting your rezoning request approved just because you happen to be somebody's buddy. I've seen the second scenario before. It happens everywhere.

     
  • Mamma Griz posted at 3:24 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Mamma Griz Posts: 237

    Mr. Yi, maybe now you know that No means NO. It is a hard way to learn English, isn't it.

     
  • Viktor posted at 10:18 am on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Viktor Posts: 316

    He broke the law? Certainly worse laws have been broken in Harker Heights with regards to zoning. He expanded the bar for pool tables not a strip club. Have the man pay a fine. Putting someone out of business in this economy doesn't sound smart. Neither does all the charges city will incur taking the guy to court. Save money on both sides & work out a solution. We already have too many lawsuits in this sue happy world.

     
  • Eliza posted at 8:15 am on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 654

    @Yi said he was given no reason when his request to rezone the 688-square-foot area was declined.
    “Yeah, I break the law, but I didn’t hurt anybody,” Yi said. “I don’t see any reason why they would say no to me.”


    Mr Yi,I'm glad you admit that you broke the law, That way it may not hurt so much when you have to pay for your crime. Why did you even go to the council to receive permission to expand if you felt you could make that decision by yourself ?

     
  • Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er posted at 7:27 am on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er Posts: 202

    “Yeah, I break the law, but I didn’t hurt anybody,” Yi said. “I don’t see any reason why they would say no to me.”
    You break the law, but didn't hurt anyone...would you like it if one of your employees stole from you...they break the law, but didn't hurt anyone.