Billy’s on Grand’s request for a sound-level variance for a June 5 Grand Days event was denied on a 4-1 vote by the Saint Paul City Council on June 1. City Council member Rebecca Noecker, whose Ward 2 includes Billy’s at 857 Grand Ave., made the motion for denying the permit, saying the bar and restaurant first needs to build trust among its neighbors.

Noecker cited a City Council decision in March to fine Billy’s $500 and add more conditions to its operating license in response to numerous police calls to the bar and restaurant and an investigation by the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI). “I don’t believe a business should be forever punished,” Noecker said. However, trust needs to be earned before variances can be approved, she added.

The Summit Hill Association (SHA) Zoning and Land Use Committee in May initially recommended approval of Billy’s sound-level variance requests for events on June 5 and June 19. It wanted to see how those events played out before deciding on Billy’s sound-level variance requests for July 2, July 23 and August 20.

However, the SHA rescinded its support after learning that the information presented to the district council and neighbors in late May differed from what was submitted to DSI. The district council was told that Billy’s would have a DJ inside the bar and restaurant and pipe the music outside. DSI was told there would be live music on the patio.

   

SHA executive director Monica Haas said in a letter to the City Council that the district council will consider future variance requests from Billy’s if the information presented is consistent with what is sent to city officials.

Billy’s could not be reached for comment. Wes Spearman and Chuck Gilbert of Billy’s management team DWD Group had said earlier that they were dropping the request to extend liquor service to the parking lot on June 5 in order to placate neighbors. They said they also have hired a private security firm.

In denying the variance request, Noecker was joined by council members Amy Brendmoen, Jane Prince and Chris Tolbert. Mitra Jalali voted against denial. Council members Dai Thao and Nelsie Yang were absent.

 

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Action is still pending on Billy’s request for a 2 a.m. closing and other licenses the business needs to serve liquor and provide entertainment. In the meantime, DWD Group is operating under previous owner RJMP Group’s licenses. The SHA recommended earlier this spring against allowing the 2 a.m. closing.

— Jane McClure

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