Nightclub approved

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, November 15, 2011

JACKSON — A special use permit has been approved for a restaurant/lounge to open along Interstate 95.

Last week the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved a special permit requested by Desi Brothers Investments, LLC to open a restaurant/lounge in the former Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House on Highway 46 near the I-95/46 interchange.

The parcel of land is 5.14 acres, zoned highway business and contains two primary structures, the former restaurant and a hotel.

While Desi Brothers Investments (Ketankumar S. Patel) made the request for the permit, the restaurant will be leased to Royalty Restaurants & Lounge, LLC, which will operate the business.

During a public hearing held for the matter, William Flynn, Northampton Planning and Zoning director, said the property meets all but one of the minimum requirements for a nightclub in a highway business district.

Flynn said the building for the nightclub is situated approximately 232 feet from an agricultural-residential zoning district and is 68 feet short of the 300 foot requirement.

“However, the residential property near the nightclub is not likely to be developed due to location and poor soil conditions,” he said. “The fact that the proposed building is not the required 300 feet from a residential district may be construed as a case of a pre-existing, non-conforming building as the building and surrounding properties were in place prior to the 1994 adoption of the Northampton County Zoning Ordinance as amended.”

Commissioner Virginia Spruill asked if the facility ceases to operate for a length time would the special use permit be revoked.

“There is a time limit on a special use permit,” Flynn responded.

He added the board can impose any conditions and if the applicant violates any of the conditions or requirements the permit is immediately null and void. He also noted that if the property were to change hands the special use permit would still stand.

Tammi Wilkins and Timothy Williams with Royalty Restaurants & Lounge LLC along with attorney Sam Webb appeared before the board to answer questions about the business.

“The principal use of the facility will be as a restaurant,” Webb said.

Webb said the hours of operation for the restaurant would be from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday. The preceding hours the tenants would utilize the building as a nightclub. On Thursday through Saturday the nightclub would be open until 2 a.m.

He also referred to the “safeguards” placed in the lease which state a laundry list of prohibited uses/activities, including illegal activities, lewd dancing, nudity and loud music. The lease requires the tenant to maintain hotel guests’ privacy by ensuring any music played in the lounge will not disturb the guests. The lease also states that if there is too much law enforcement involvement the contract will be terminated.

“The point is that the owner of this facility, he has an interest of making sure that his hotel guests are not disturbed,” Webb said.

Wilkins said the customers of the nightclub will be 25 and over and there will be a strict dress code enforced.

“It’s going to be for a grown and sexy type environment, the more mature age level,” she said. “We just want it were people can come and have a good time and relax.”

Spruill questioned if the club would have bouncers.

Wilkins said they would.

“Did you say grown and sexy,” asked Commission Chairwoman Fannie Greene.

“Yes ‘mam, grown and sexy,” Wilkins responded.

“What does that mean,” Greene asked.

Wilkins defined that as customers of a more mature age that come to the facility dressed appropriately and do not want to start trouble.

Williams, who has experience in running a club, said the business’s atmosphere would be the same as Applebees in Roanoke Rapids, which has karaoke and stays open until 2 a.m.

Commissioner James Hester moved to grant the special use permit with the condition that if Desi Brothers reassigned the business it would need to come back before the commissioners for reconsideration. Spruill offered a seconded and the motion passed without objection.