03/27/08 — Club 55 neighbors await decision

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Club 55 neighbors await decision

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 27, 2008 1:55 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Irate neighbors of a Hispanic culture-themed nightclub have until at least April 4 to hear if the club can sell beer, an official said.

Two dozen people jammed into a Cherry Hospital basement conference room in January, the first step in an administrative law hearing.

Those proceedings may determine whether Wayne County resident Randy Mills will be able to sell beer at Club 55 El Abuelo on N.C. 55 near the Wayne County line.

Administrative law judge Melissa Owens-Lassiter presided, at first saying a decision would come within 45 days.

But because transcripts of the January session were not completed until around 10 days ago, the deadline was extended, according to a lawyer representing the state.

Renee Cowick is the assistant counsel defending the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission's August decision to deny Club 55 a beer permit.

"Yes, we did not receive a transcript until a week-and-a-half ago," Ms. Cowick said. "(The judge) extended the time to submit proposals to April 4."

Proposals from both Ms. Cowick and Mills' lawyer John Dees will present their own proposed resolutions.

Dees, a Goldsboro real estate and contract lawyer, did not return multiple phone calls for comment.

Ms. Cowick said she would work to uphold the A.B.C. Commission's decision that selling beer at Club 55 would not be allowed.

"(A beer license) would be a detriment to the neighborhood," Ms. Cowick said. "And there's a lot of things that can go into that -- noise, traffic trash, etc."

Neighbors of the club gathered to tell Cowick their problems with the club in January before the hearing.

Ms. Cowick said it was unclear when the judge would make her final decision.

"I don't know how long it will take to make a decision once she receives (proposals)," Ms. Cowick said.