HURRICANE — After a heartfelt public hearing Thursday night about the fate of Fox Theater, the Hurricane City Council voted to not revoke their business license – for now.
At the top of the hearing, Glenn Fox, Fox Theater business owner, read a prepared statement in which he answered complaints with regard to a college party that occurred Feb. 20, as previously reported on by St. George News. The complaints included loud noise, parking and liquor and drug law violations.
Fox, again, apologized to the council.
“All of the issues that have been brought up have been exclusively from our rental,” Fox said. “For me, having my business on the line, I loved being able to provide the venue for those people, they were always very appreciative to have somewhere to hold these events.”
With that said, Fox said it wasn’t worth the risk.
“I can’t put myself in the middle of that and put my family’s livelihood in jeopardy for those events anymore,” he said. “I understand the frustration and I see the extent of the damage that has been done here.”
At least five different community members spoke in favor of Fox keeping his business license, including a troupe of actors who put on community produced plays at the theater.
Council member Nanette Billings raised the possibility of issuing a temporary license.
Fox said a temporary license would suffice, especially since they recently received an eviction notice.
“We really just want to finish out our schedule that we have arranged for the community right now,” he said. “I want to uphold my commitments.”
City attorney Fay Reber advised the council that it had a variety of options, including revoking the license or reaching an agreement on some kind of temporary license subject to conditions that strict adherence to ordinances be observed.
Council member Joseph Prete said he was on board with the concept of continuing the license, at least until they are evicted in May.
“With a very strict leash,” he added, “that if there’s a single violation, it’s a one and done kind of a thing. That makes sense to me, that seems merciful but yet holding you accountable.”
The public hearing degenerated at one point into a he-said, she-said type debate and one neighbor of the Fox Theater said Fox lied to her at least twice.
Glenn Fox’s father, William Fox, spoke up when that happened.
“My son might be a lot of things, but he is not a liar,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion. “I have never, in Glenn’s life, ever caught him in a lie. I want it to be known that he is raised better than that.”
Billings then made a motion that the business license not be revoked, conditional upon strict adherence to the specified agreements in the license, but the motion did not receive a second.
Council member Kevin Tervort said he felt “kind of heartbroken” for him.
“I love community theater. It breaks my heart that this has happened,” he said. “But you are the guy in charge; and ultimately, all of this falls on your shoulders, not ours. We can’t be blamed because you didn’t do your diligence, is basically what it boils down to.”
Tervort added that he would feel better if they continued the license contingent upon a review.
“If you find a place we’d love to have you; we’d love to have your performers continue, but contingent that we review whatever happens between now and then,” he said.
The council spent more time articulating a motion, which in sum, would place the business license on a probationary basis until the end of June, at which point the council would review the license, subject to the proviso that if there’s additional violations between now and June, the license could be terminated subject to council review.
The motion was forwarded by Tervort and seconded by Billings. The motion passed 4-1, with council member Darin Larson voting no.
“You’re good to go, with those stipulations,” said Mayor John Bramall, which evoked a large round of applause from the public.
In an earlier matter, the council decided to initiate an education campaign to inform the public about cemetery rules, specifically the rules stipulating how decorations are allowed on gravestones.
Darren Barney, parks superintendent, brought the issue before council, asking it to allow him the discretion to enforce the rules that are already in place.
“For the most part it was just rules pertaining to decorations that impede our maintenance and also cause safety issues,” Barney said in an interview afterwards. “Decorations that are put in and around headstones and on the grass that make it so we are unable to mow or trim around the headstones. As well as some rules about the proper way to set headstones and size restrictions on headstones.”
For the most part, the rules were already in place and Barney was granted permission by the council to start enforcing them. The primary focus in the immediate future is to inform the public about the issue.
“It’s starting to become a safety issue for our staff,” Barney said. “It’s getting to the point where we cannot maintain the cemetery because there’s too much stuff in the way.”
Barney said that efforts to inform the public will be made with new signage at the cemetery, information on the city website and Facebook page and in some cases contacting directly the families who have gravestones in the cemetery.
Council members and Barney made it clear that decorations will not be taken down or tampered with in any way until the public has had time to get educated about the rules.
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