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Liquor board holds hearing on West Chester bar request

Bam Margera, partner seek to transfer license.

Whether the state will transfer a liquor license to Bar Blue II - Don Moore and Bam Margera's much-debated music venue and bar on East Market Street in West Chester - now is up to one man.

Thomas P. Mill, master hearing examiner of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, listened to more than eight hours of testimony Friday on whether Moore should be allowed to transfer his license from Rex's Bar at 344 W. Gay St., which he says he will close, to the new establishment at 142 E. Market St.

Twenty-two people attended the administrative hearing at the State Office Building in Philadelphia.

Saying that enough is enough, a handful of impassioned borough residents spoke. They complained that there already is too much noise, vehicle and foot traffic, and vandalism in their neighborhood, which they blamed on bar patrons.

Lawyer Thomas Cairns Jr. represented seven of the residents; all were from the Historic South Walnut Neighborhood Association. Former Borough Council president Anne M. Carroll, co-chair of the community group Civic Action Southwest, testified on behalf of her organization.

"Our neighborhood is under assault," testified Joe Norley, president of the Historic South Walnut Neighborhood Association. "Four hundred young people bringing their cars and their behavior to the edge of our neighborhood will be just unbelievable. . . . It's exacerbating a situation that's already over the top."

"West Chester has become so popular that our neighborhood cannot take one more bar, especially one in the nature of a bar like this," Norley said.

Resident William McLaughlin Jr. testified that there are 25 liquor licenses in the borough. With a population of approximately 17,800, there is one license for roughly every 700 residents.

"There's a saloon environment that taxes the Police Department," McLaughlin said. "Bar Blue II will adversely affect the health, welfare and morals of our neighborhood."

Moore, who owns 51 percent of Bar Blue II, testified that he would manage the new club. He said Margera, who owns 49 percent of the business, was solely an investor. West Chester lawyers William Shewhen and Joel Frank represented Moore and Margera, who both attended the hearing.

Moore noted that he had agreed late last year to concessions Borough Council had requested: no takeout of alcohol, interior and exterior security cameras, trained/certified staff, and ID scanners at the entrance. He said that agreement convinced Borough Council to withdraw its protest against a liquor license for Bar Blue II.

"There's not going to be any happy hours, no two-for-ones," Moore said. "I'm not going to be encouraging kids to get drunk."

Moore also testified that he wanted to bring a theater-type venue to West Chester. He said he hoped to serve 300 to 350 patrons nightly. "There really is no place for people my age in West Chester - close to 40 - where people can have a meal and see some entertainment," he said.

Cairns presented photographs from Margera's MySpace page that showed the television star cavorting outside the Market Street property. One of the captions read:

"Filthy Note Theatre will be open at the end of April. We are currently booking all my favorite bands now. So get ready!!"

Shewhen and Moore argued that the new bar/theater would never be called 'Filthy.' "It would be shooting yourself in the foot," Moore said.

Mills has 30 days from the hearing date to analyze the transcript and complete his report. He will then make his recommendation to the three-person Liquor Control Board.