BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The owners of the Timeout Lounge suffered a major setback Monday in the their bid to re-open the historic bar as the East Baton Rouge Planning and Zoning Commission denied a zoning request for a property on Valley Street.
The request and motion to deny came about eight months after the bar's previous location on Old Hammond Highway was destroyed by fire. The zoning requested to change the current light commercial tag on the property on Valley Street to allow the sale of alcohol. Homeowners and members of the Southside Civic Association spoke out against the request claiming the area is already saturated with establishments that serve alcohol.
“It's not an anti-bar issue or anti-business or anti-economic development issue. It's strictly a safety issue,” said Southdowns resident Warren Delaune.
“Please send a clear signal that the planning commission is committed to protecting the family-friendly atmosphere in the Southdown's area,” added Tania Nyman.
Those in favor of the change countered that restricting bars in the area will do nothing to change the behavior of drivers who pass by and cut through the Southdowns neighborhood.
“The people speeding at 10 o'clock in the morning have not left a bar or restaurant and have been served alcohol. Their speeding problems in their neighborhood I don't know how you can pin every one of those down to the fact these establishments exist,” said Ned Fasullo.
The request was denied with no opposition after little discussion by the commission.
The group's recommendation came as a major setback to the owners of Timeout, while those who live in the area say it's all about trying to keep families and students who attend St. Aloysius safe.
“We invest in our families and our homes and that's where we live so we need that consideration. There's already enough places along Perkins Road where you can purchase alcohol and just think enough is enough,” said Southside Civic Association Secretary Peter Ricca.
“They have said over, over and over again that the Byers are such nice people and we hope they get back in business, just not in our neighborhood so who's neighborhood would they send us to?” asked Timeout owner Kathleen Byers.
Byers adds they will bring their fight for the zoning change to the Baton Rouge Metro Council, but admit getting a favorable vote despite the recommendation by the planning commission will be no easy task.