Plans for new bar in Trotwood hit roadblock

A proposal from the owners of Sporty’s Taphouse & Grill in Harrison Twp. to open a new bar and lounge on Free Pike in Trotwood has stalled after Trotwood's Board of Zoning Appeals rejected an appeal to rezone the property for a bar.

Jung-Han Chen, Trotwood’s planning and development director, said in an Oct. 14 letter to Sporty’s co-founder Howard Mason that the property at 5042 Free Pike is zoned single-family residential, although it did previously operate as a bar and lounge until about 2015.

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Under Trotwood’s zoning laws, the property’s zoning status reverted to single-family residential after the building, which formerly housed Frank & J’s Lounge, was vacant for more than a year, Chen wrote. The city’s planning and development director also informed Mason he could challenge the decision by filing an appeal to the Trotwood Board of Zoning Appeals.

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Mason did indeed file an appeal, and on Thursday, Nov. 21, the city’s board of zoning appeals denied Mason’s request to re-zone the property for a bar. Jung-Han Chen said Friday, Nov. 22 that Mason did not appear at the meeting. Four residents who live near the Free Pike property did attend the meeting and spoke in opposition to the re-zoning request, based on their experiences when the property operated as a bar and lounge prior to 2015, Jung-Han Chen said.

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Mason told this news outlet over the weekend that the rejection of his zoning request for the Free Pike bar will prompt him to abandon plans that he had for a broader development project that potentially would have brought a grocery store and entertainment venue to Salem Avenue, at the site of a former Circuit City and Burlington Coat Factory. Those stores are now vacant.

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Mason said in October that his plans for the new bar and lounge on Free Pike called for it to offer musical entertainment, which Harrison Twp. zoning regulations prohibit at Sporty’s TapHouse & Grill.

Sporty’s — located in the space that formerly housed iconic restaurant The Barnsider for four decades and, later, Liquid Sports Club — is zoned strictly for a restaurant, not a nightclub or lounge. Those restrictions mean that Sporty’s is prohibited from doing a karaoke night or any live music, Mason said.

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There are no plans to close either Sporty’s Taphouse, or its carry-out location at 3489 W. Siebenthaler Ave., the Sporty’s managing member said.

***ORIGINAL STORY (Oct. 25, 2019)***

The owners of Sporty’s Taphouse & Grill in Harrison Twp. have plans to open a new bar and lounge on Free Pike in Trotwood, but the project hinges on a zoning change.

Sporty’s applied to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for a full liquor license for 5042 Free Pike, in space that previously housed the Frank and J Lounge.

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However, city officials told the applicants in an Oct. 14 letter that the Free Pike property is no longer zoned for a bar/tavern use, in part because it has been vacant for more than a year — in this case, for more than three years.

Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

Howard Mason, co-founder and managing member of Sporty’s Taphouse, said he has filed an appeal to the city in an effort to re-zone the property so the project can proceed.

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Jung-Han Chen, Trotwood’s planning and development director, confirmed today that the issue will go before the Trotwood Board of Zoning Appeals for a hearing at its next meeting on Nov. 21.

If the project does go through, the new bar and lounge will offer musical entertainment, which Harrison Twp. zoning regulations prohibit at Sporty’s TapHouse & Grill.

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Sporty’s — located in the space that formerly housed iconic restaurant The Barnsider for four decades and, later, Liquid Sports Club — is zoned strictly for a restaurant, not a nightclub or lounge. Those restrictions mean that Sporty’s is prohibited from doing a karaoke night or any live music, Mason said.

The Sporty’s owners submitted the winning bid earlier this year in a real-estate auction to purchase the Free Pike space for $82,000, Mason said.

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There are no plans to close either Sporty’s Taphouse, which is located in the former Barnsider restaurant space at 5202 N. Main St., or its carry-out location at 3489 W. Siebenthaler Ave., the Sporty’s managing member said.

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