Efforts to close a downtown bar were derailed Thursday.
City hearing officer Janet I. Embry ruled The Annex Bar, 666 S. State, will stay open and can continue to sale beer under certain conditions.The tavern was the subject of a three-day license-revocation hearing in September. Witnesses at the hearing testified the Annex draws prostitutes and drug dealers into the area.
Police officials and owners of businesses near the bar had hoped the city would deny the bar's application for renewal of license on grounds that it is a "public nuisance." But Embry ruled the tavern can stay in business as long as certain stipulations are met.
Embry wrote in her order that The Annex "as operated prior to notice of denial of the 1990-91 business license was a public nuisance." But that "this nuisance appears to have been abated in the last few weeks."
Documents filed by the city during the September hearing list 21 illegal incidents at or near the tavern. The accounts describe fights with pool balls and sticks, arrests of people using and dealing drugs, a man with a gun shooting at the feet of other customers, and even the slaying of a man who was stabbed while he was leaving the bar.
"This is a serious threat to the health and safety of the residents of Salt Lake City," Assistant City Attorney Larry V. Spendlove told the hearing officer.
Spendlove said he was "disappointed" at Embry's decision.
"I can guarantee you: The city, and police, and neighbors nearby will be keeping an eye on (The Annex)," he said. "And we'll ask for a revocation if (Annex owners) don't keep it cleaned up."
Embry's ruling stipulates: A manager must be on site during all hours of operation, and the bar must be run in a way that will "allow neighbors quiet enjoyment of their properties without disruption of their businesses and that the public will be free from harassment and illegal activities."
While business owners nearby are upset about the ruling, they say the tavern has improved operations since the hearing.
"But I'm skeptical as to what will happen now that they have their license," said Harold Winter of Karl Winter Co. "All we can do is wait and see."
Annex owner Teresa Duran Avila promised in the September hearing that the bar won't return to its previous condition if she has "anything to do with it." She said, "When I was there, drugs was never going on. I was not aware any of this stuff was going on."
Attempts to reach Annex owners or their attorney following Thursday's decision were unsuccessful.