Mo’ s Pub, residents’ quarrel divides Langley City Council

Street noise surrounding Mo’s Pub has some residents riled that the city has not done more to control the late-night crowds.

The fight now has Langley City Council members so divided on what should be done that their decision Monday was to do nothing. Mayor Fred McCarthy was adamant that the problem is of the city’s own making and has left decision-makers in an awkward position.

“A fundamental zoning decision was made in error,” he said at Monday’s council meeting. “We’re making the best of the situation.”

Last year, the city came up with zoning regulations for lounges next to a single-family residence to permit six amplified live performances per year. Maureen Cooke, owner of Mo’s Pub and Eatery on Second Street, asked the city to amend the language to allow for more  low-level sound performances during the week. She argued that it was good for business to have performers plug into an amplifier while people enjoyed dinner and drinks.

Langley’s planning director believes otherwise.

“The idea that this current restriction is creating a large fiscal impact is not true, given where they started three years ago — no bar, no pub, nothing,” said Jeff Arango, Langley’s director of Community Planning.

Second Street residents like Victoria Locke, who spoke at the meeting Monday, understood it was good for business. Performances were not the issue, she said. It’s outside crowd noise of “people who are smashed, trying to find their vehicle at 1 a.m. in the morning” that is keeping her and other residents awake late at night and early in the morning.

“For me, the issue is what happens after 9 o’clock,” she told the council.

Locke and other residents have logged complaints at City Hall and some incidents of parking violations and noise infractions with the Langley Police Department. Acting Chief David Marks, however, said neither he nor his officers are aware of excessive noise infraction from the lounge at night. He did admit to being too relaxed when it comes to writing parking tickets for people parking on Second Street without a proper permit and promised to properly enforce the rule.

Writing parking tickets in Langley is sure to be an unpopular measure though, and city leadership knows it.

“We can up our enforcement,” McCarthy said. “It’s not going to go over very well.”

Councilwoman Rene Neff was sympathetic to residents’ concerns of having a successful pub take up residence next door.

Councilman Hal Seligson said he trusted the assessment of the Langley Police Department, which had not found excessive noise from inside the pub.

Councilman Bruce Allen called the issue a “nothing more than a Hatfield and McCoy thing,” alluding to the infamous feuding families.

“We can’t do any right here,” he said.

Hours of operation appeared to be a central issue for Councilman Jim Sundberg, who was curious whether the city could adopt a sweeping limit to how late a lounge or restaurant could stay open. The idea was not embraced by Arango.

Doug Allderdice, largely quiet during the discussion, said he wanted to refer the issue to the city’s Planning Advisory Board.

The city tabled the issue and will discuss it further at another council meeting.


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