WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — The Town of Wrightsville Beach and the beach-bar Red Dogs have had a tumultuous relationship at best, and an openly hostile relationship at worst.
In April, Red Dogs was granted a temporary beer and wine permit from the ABC Commission, despite the town’s best efforts to block the issuance.
More recently, on Sept. 26, the Board of Adjustment upheld a decision by the zoning administrator that the business was operating without proper zoning requirements in place.
Since the new owner of Red Dogs, Andrew Brothers took over the private club after the passing of former owner Charlie Maultsby, the town has relentlessly tried to stop it from opening. Their claim? That the private club is operating without proper zoning permits, which Chief of Police Dan House claimed the town would never issue during a previous interview.
“The downtown area is not zoned for a private club. The only thing you can have there is a retail business or a restaurant,” Chief House said. “The town will never approve the permit based on the fact that it doesn’t meet the zoning law.”
Despite the claims from the town that Red Dogs is not in compliance with zoning regulations, Brothers has continued to operate the private club — racking up a hefty amount of fines in the process — $1,350 worth of fines to be exact.
From April to May, AB Family Ventures Inc. — Brothers’ company, which owns Red Dogs — was fined $50 a day for operating a business without a Certificate of Zoning Compliance from April 18 — May 14. The fine process stopped once Brothers filed his appeal to the Board of Adjustment.
No zoning approval — according to the town
Town leaders have openly condemned the club, labeling it a ‘public nuisance’ and claiming that the operation of a private club is not permitted within the town’s zoning ordinance.
According to Brothers, the location has operated as a private club since the 1970s — but Town Manager Tim Owens says the town approved the location for retail sales in the late 90s.
“5B North Lumina (Red Dogs) upstairs was originally approved by the Town for retail sales (t-shirts, clothing, etc) in the late 90s. Soon after, that use was abandoned and 5B North Lumina was converted to a bar with no zoning approval given by the Town. Red Dogs opened under new owners in April of this year after being closed for roughly 16 months. The Town requires an application for a Certificate of Zoning Compliance be completed per 188.8.131.52 of the Town Code,” Owens said.
But according to the appeal, “The use of the building located at 5B North Lumina Avenue … has not been structurally altered, erected, moved or its use changed. Therefore, is not in violation of Wrightsville Beach Unified Development Ordinance …”
The town Board of Adjustment ultimately denied Brothers’ appeal but what’s next is anyone’s guess, Brothers said. He said he is waiting to see what the town’s next move is before making any decisions.
“We really look forward to working with the town. We hope we can come to a resolution and continue to run the business as we have been. As of right now, we’ve been opened for more than five months. We’ve had no issues and everything has been extremely positive. We had a great season,” he said.
For now, Brothers has no intentions of closing down and even filled out a new application for his business.
“It went really well. They apologized when they voted against us, and then we filled out the form that they wanted us to fill out and paid the application fee. We’re hoping … because we filled it out right there, if this was the only issue, here it is, can we go forward?” he said.
Typically, after an appeal such as this one has been denied, the next step is Superior Court, but that is not the direction Brothers wants to go.
“No, we’re not taking anybody to court. We’re hoping we can just get our permit here … our temporary license runs out at the end of Oct. Waiting to see if we’ll get another temporary or get our permanent,” he said.
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