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Pennsylvania - Court orders Fulton Bar shut

OFF THE WIRE
The Fulton Bar on Plum Street in Lancaster.

It could be last call for the current incarnation of the Fulton Bar.
A county judge has issued a temporary injunction closing the bar until an Oct. 18 hearing to address the city's claims that it's a nuisance, a danger to the community and a "haven for disorderly persons."
The city has tried to work with the owners, but to no avail, Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray said.
"We don't like doing it. I don't like doing it — especially to a place like the Fulton that used to be a nice neighborhood place," Gray said Wednesday.
Police have responded to 36 complaints at the bar between Jan. 1 and Aug. 20 and another 16 complaints in the area immediately around the bar, according to court documents filed in seeking the injunction.
Calls have included such problems as shots fired, public drunkenness, assault, noise, theft and fighting.
"We don't have a real high tolerance for things like this," Gray said. "Decent people just shouldn't have to live around this kind of thing."
Patricia Gribben, 60, who owns the bar with her husband, Harold Gribben, 65, said they have taken steps to address the city's concerns.
A couple months ago, signs were put up to deter loitering and prohibit gang clothing and, Gribben said, in August, they hired an "excellent new bouncer who's known around the city. He pats everybody down. He knows all the riff-raff" and keeps them out.
And some problems cited by the city aren't the fault of the bar, she said.
For example, she said, an Aug. 11 incident in which a patron was accused of firing shots happened outside the bar.
While the man was at the bar that night, Gribben said it was her understanding that he had left and perhaps that's when he got the gun.
And a description by police of customers spilling outside the bar to watch a patron argue with someone was instead everyone leaving at closing time, she said.
A summary of police activity included with the court documents mentions the presence of outlaw motorcycle gangs.
But it's a myth that the bar is a biker bar, Gribben said.
Gribben said her husband had joined the Strong Arm club to ride several years ago, but hasn't ridden in a couple of years and is no longer a member. The club is affiliated with the Pagans, according to police.
Police were called Aug. 13 for complaints of noise from about 30 to 40 motorcycles. Gribben said they caused no problems.
Problems weren't what Gribben envisioned when she and her husband bought the bar about five years ago as a retirement investment.
"We took pretty much all our savings and put it into it," she said at the bar Wednesday afternoon, her eyes tearing up.
She said she fell in love with the 110-year-old bar when she first saw it. Patrons would tell her how their parents and grandparents came to the bar.
A few customers dropped by Wednesday late afternoon but left when Gribben told them she couldn't serve drinks.
"Most people want to have a beer," she said.
Handles from a dozen or so beer taps have been removed, and the tiered shelving behind the bar is empty of liquor bottles.
The bar is allowed to remain open pending the hearing for food service only, but because it also faces an Oct. 11-20 shutdown for two state liquor law violations, Gribben doesn't see a point. The violations are for serving intoxicated persons and loud music.
At the Oct. 18 hearing, the city will seek to have the Fulton declared a nuisance and prevent it from selling alcohol for one year.
"I don't know what neighbors feel we were a nuisance, but a lot of the neighbors come in here every day. We're a neighborhood bar," Gribben said.
Denise Freeman, leader of the Neighbors United community improvement group, said the bar has changed and she's stopped going there, as have other people she knows.
"The police record pretty much speaks for itself," Freeman said, adding other bars in the neighborhood don't have similar problems.
Gribben said with the problems with the city and her husband battling a brain tumor, she said she's "pretty much done."
Gribben hopes the Fulton continues to exist, but she wants to sell. In the meantime, she said, she plans to cooperate with the city.
dnephin©lnpnews.com


Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/473531_Court-orders-Fulton-Bar-shut.html#ixzz1aO0PCXD2

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