Last updated: August 24. 2013 9:47PM - 114 Views

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LIMA — A downtown bar owner will need to convince state officials he deserves the chance to stay in business.Lima City Council voted 6 to 1 Monday to object to the renewal of the liquor license of the Brownstone bar. Councilman Jesse Lowe was the lone vote against the objection. Councilman Tom Tebben did not attend Monday's meeting.The vote came after a week of heated exchanges between city officials and the bar's owner, Jason Upthegrove. Chief Kevin Martin of the Lima Police Department asked the council to object to the renewal of the liquor license, noting that since Jan. 1, 2011, officers have responded to the North Elizabeth Street bar 47 times for calls that included shots fired and fights in the parking lot, illegal drugs inside the bar, after-hours sales of alcohol, and underage intoxicated people leaving the bar. On one occasion, officers responded to someone in the parking lot who had been shot. On another occasion, shots were fired at a police cruiser when officers responded to a “shots fired” call.Upthegrove, speaking to the council before the vote, said the calls are part of a vendetta Martin and the Police Department have against him for his work as president of the Lima chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and efforts to speak up for the community's poor and disenfranchised.“A lot of the information you're going to be getting tonight is going to be false. It's going to be full of lies, full of speculation and false,” Upthegrove said.By objecting to the renewal, Council is forcing Upthegrove to attend a hearing with an officer from the Ohio Liquor Commission. The hearing officer will make a recommendation to the commission, which will ultimately decide on the renewal.Council President John Nixon said the hearing will allow Upthegrove to make his case to experts in liquor control.“It is an independent review and I think that is what is needed in all cases. In the past, remedies have either been made or, in the case where there are no remedies to be made, the liquor permit is revoked,” Nixon said. “We are not experts and shouldn't be put in the position to make that call.”Lowe said he voted against the objection out of a sense of fairness. He said other bars have had similar problems, but have not received the attention Upthegrove's bar has.“All the bars aren't being held to the same standard,” Lowe said. “This isn't about Jason, It's about what's right across the board.”Councilman Derry Glenn acknowledged he has voted to object to the renewal of other bars, including Markos and The Bayou Gator, and felt he should also vote for the Brownstone objection for the sake of consistency. He did ask if the council would be able to postpone a vote until they could study the information provided by the Police Department, but Law Director Tony Geiger said the license is up for renewal next week, leaving the council no time to delay.“When it came to the Gator and Markos, I did not support them. I try the best I can to be fair and consistent,” Glenn said.

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