UPDATED: Judge Orders City to Approve Kirkwood Bar & Grill's Liquor License
City has 10 days from July 2 to give license.
A Fulton County Superior Court Judge overturned Mayor Kasim Reed's denial of a liquor license to a Kirkwood bar owner on Monday.
Judge John J. Goger's order requires the city grant the Kirkwood Bar & Grill and its owner, David Johnson, the license no later than July 12.
"The judge ruled there was no evidence to deny him the license," Johnson's attorney, Alan I. Begner, told East Atlanta Patch Monday. "I’m happy and so is David."
A spokeswoman for Reed said the city is studying how it will respond.
"The City will carefully review Judge Goger's order when it is entered and will then determine the appropriate next steps," Sonji Jacobs Dade told Patch.
The bar had been dark for several days, fueling speculation that it closed. Begner said it proved difficult to operate a sports bar, without having the ability to sell liquor.
The ruling is the latest in the long-running row between the Kirkwood neighborhood and Johnson over bar at 1963 Hosea L. Williams Dr.
Johnson's bar is an anchor business of the Kirkwood Station retail and residential complex.
But residential neighbors and fellow business owners in the complex have complained Johnson fails to abide by the rules that govern Kirkwood Station, by staying open later than allowed, placing signs in the right-of-way or illegally parking his vehicle.
They also object to the tinted and reflective glass — which doesn't allow a view of what's going on inside — in violation of city codes regulating Kirkwood's commercial district.
The reflective tint also violates the bylaws that govern Kirkwood Station, neighbors say.
Johnson, whio is black, has said the dispute between him and his neighbors stems from race and that there is a vocal minority of people in Kirkwood who oppose him because it.
It's a charge many in the neighborhood deny.
The judge's order comes amidst a citywide review of the liquor license process.
Bar owners complain the process is too cumbersome; neighhood leaders say their input isn't given enough weight.
"I understand that neighborhoods have a right to be part of the analysis and they have the right to oppose an application," Begner said. "But with the neighbohood planning units, some of them have an enhanced view of the rules by which they should participate."
Begner said he hopes the two sides in Kirkwood can come together for the betterment of the neighborhood.
"I told him when he gets his license, he's going to have to be a good neighbor," Begner said. "He’s going to have to get invoved and convince him that they should welcome him instead of fighting him."