The Federated Blocks of Laurelton, some members of Community Board 13 and neighborhood residents are concerned about two party spots which they say are disrupting the peaceful community with loud music, blocked driveways, drug use and public sex.
The establishments are the Light On Pub & Grill and the Starz Catering Hall, located within three blocks of each other on Merrick Boulevard, a busy commercial strip, in Laurelton.
These issues became worse, according to Dwight Johnson, president of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton, after the spots were granted liquor licenses, which allowed them to attract more customers.
“People hang out in their cars after the parties and smoke weed and have sex,” Johnson said.
Olaican Paul, the owner of Light On, says her business is quiet and that the nighttime affairs, which she said are usually bridal showers or children’s birthday parties end at 11 p.m. at the latest. She said she doesn’t allow smoking inside or loitering outside.
“I’m just a single mother trying to earn a living and raise my four children,” Paul said. “They are saying things that are not true. They just don’t want me here.”
The owner of Starz could not be reached for comment by press time.
Community Board 13 voted down the license application for the Light On Pub & Grill on May 12 and the board sent a letter to the State Liquor Authority the next day informing it of its decision. The thumbs down came after the NYPD said the businesses had two outstanding summonses, according to CB 13’s community coordinator Stephanie Rainkie, but she said she didn’t know why they had been issued and the Police Department did not answer an email Monday requesting more information.
The application for the Starz Banquet Hall, however, was approved by the board on May 12, because police stated that there were no problems with that establishment.
Light On’s liquor license application was approved by the SLA on June 26 and issued on Aug. 6. Starz’s application was approved on May 3, 2012 and issued on May 30, according to Bill Crowley, spokesman for the SLA.
He said the agency did not receive any written letters of opposition, including any notification from the community board opposing either application. Crowley added that every applicant has to notify the community board 30 days in advance of filing and show proof that they have done so, or the SLA won’t even consider giving a license. He said sometimes the community board sends a response, but not always.
“They don’t live here,” Johnson said of the SLA board members. “They don’t even come out to investigate.”
FBL has contacted area lawmakers and reached out to the 105th Precinct, which covers the area, in hopes of a solution. But the problems persist and Johnson says he believes he knows the reason.
“A lot of these clubs have lookouts,” he said. “They know when the police are coming and they clean up their act.”
Rose Funderberk, president of the 105th Precinct Community Council, said Friday that people have been complaining about Light On for months and now she has noticed Starz is gaining the same dubious reputation.
“People have been complaining that they are urinating in the streets,” Funderberk said. “There is loud music and double-parked cars, and people having sex in their car.”
But Funderberk says she hasn’t heard about any arrests at the two businesses, and she receives faxes about such things from the precinct and monitors the police radio for information.
Johnson says his group and others are not looking to shut the businesses down, but they do want them to be better neighbors, and they plan to reach out to the owners of both establishments in hopes of coming to a solution. Johnson said perhaps the owners could soundproof their clubs.
“We know people are entitled to make a living and to open clubs,” Johnson said. “But they can’t just come in and disrupt the tranquility of the community, then go home to their own neighborhoods where it’s quiet.”
“It’s a club. You have to expect noise,” said a woman who identified herself only as Keisha, who works at a beauty salon next to Light On. “I don’t see any fights or anything like that. During the day it’s a restaurant, and at night it’s a club.”
A man who identified himself only as Sill, who works at an air conditioning and refrigeration business next to Starz, said he hasn’t had any trouble with the club, and his store stays open as late as 10 p.m.
“The parties are at night, so we don’t have a problem,” he said. “It’s totally insulated over there. You can’t hear anything. Only if you stand outside when they open the door, then you hear the music, but that’s all.”
Sill did say, however, that he could see how the hall could cause double parking and blocked driveways, but he said that is true when people hold house parties as well.