March 17, 2010

New club would be BYOB

By Keith Edwards
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- A proposal for a bottle club downtown goes to city councilors Thursday.

Bottle clubs do not serve alcohol, but allow customers to bring their own.

The RiverBack Dance Club would cater to a 30-and-older crowd, according to would-be owner Karen Hatch, of Newcastle, with music from the 1950s to 1980s by disc jockeys and live bands.

It would be in 4,800 square feet on the lower level of 335 Water St., with exits on Water and Front streets. Other businesses to have located there include restaurants such as Guido's in the 1980s and Upstairs/Downstairs in the 1990s.

It is a few doors down from Club OTR, a bar which, earlier this year, was granted a new liquor license by the city despite initial concerns expressed by police about disturbances outside the club. A recent review of police responses to Club OTR since its license was renewed indicated only a few incidents.

Hatch writes in her application for a license from the city she has discussed the club with Augusta police, taken alcohol server training and hired security staff.

"My goal is to make a statement from the beginning that this is not and will not be a place to come and get drunk and cause problems," she wrote.

The club could open in May and be open Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

A public hearing on the proposed bottle club is set for Thursday's Augusta City Council meeting, at 7 p.m. in council chambers at city center.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

* Conduct the first reading of an ordinance establishing a moratorium on permits for any new paving or concrete plants in gravel pits, for six months. The ordinance reaffirms a previously approved council order. The city enacted the moratorium after residents of a West River Road neighborhood complained an asphalt plant was allowed to move into a gravel pit in their neighborhood with no notice from the city, or any Planning Board review.

A subcommittee is considering changes to the city ordinance regulating mining and gravel pit operations to address neighbors' concerns that the ordinance is inadequate. The moratorium, city officials have said, is meant to give the subcommittee time to work.

* Conduct the first reading of changes to a city ordinance on the plowing of private roads, to add paved roads in approved residential subdivisions with at least three separate parcels to the category of private roads the city will plow, if other standards are met.

* Consider authorizing City Manager William Bridgeo to accept a $100,000 federal Department of Transportation grant to help market the Augusta State Airport.

* Meet in closed-door sessions to discuss potential litigation and labor negotiations.

Keith Edwards -- 621-5647

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