CHARLESTON – A St. Albans bar and its owner are suing the city, saying police illegally shut the bar down after city council passed an ordinance limiting bar locations.

G.A.C. Inc. doing business as VIP Lounge and George Chaber filed a lawsuit April 27 against the city in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The plaintiffs allege that a property at 57 Olde Main Plaza had operated as a bar through May 2008.

According to the complaint, city council on July 16, 2007, enacted an ordinance that prohibited the establishment of bars on properties abutting Olde Main from Second Street to B Street. The area affected by the ordinance contains 57 Olde Main Plaza. The ordinance grandfathered in "existing uses," the complaint says.

In June 2008, Chaber formed G.A.C. in order to operate a bar in the building. At that time, he applied for a liquor license with the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.

Chaber said the ABCA "wrongfully" delayed issuing him a license until Nov. 13, 2008. At that time, Chaber said he started operating a bar on the premises.

He said the police subsequently came and shut down the business, saying Chaber was operating without a license. That case is pending in municipal court, Chaber says.

Chaber says that his business is legitimate under the "existing uses" exemption in the ordinance. He wants a judge to bar the city from interfering.

Richard Lindroth is representing the plaintiff. The case is before Kanawha Circuit Court Tod Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-769




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