Bar, volleyball given nod
JANESVILLE City plan commission members forwarded a positive recommendation for a new bar with two connected volleyball courts where alcohol would be allowed.
That despite warnings from staff that it is a new concept, and a neighbor's fears that drunk patrons would make her feel unsafe.
Matt Dewitt and Kim Brown want to open Sneakers Bar & Grill in the former Basics Co-op on Woodman Road.
The bar would be 3,000 square feet and offer food, including homemade pizza. DeWitt asked for volleyball games until 10 p.m. on a lighted court, and to serve alcohol on the outdoor patio until closing.
The commission recommended use be granted with these conditions:
-- No lighting on the courts for now.
-- Volleyball games would end at 9 p.m. rather than 10 p.m.
-- No outdoor music.
-- That patio service would end at midnight, although smoking would be allowed until closing.
DeWitt said after the meeting he would have to review the conditions to see if they fit his business plan. He has said volleyball is a key part of the business.
The request will go to the city's alcohol license advisory committee Oct. 6 and likely the council Oct. 12. City staff did not recommend the volleyball court because the bar would be near residences.
"The concept of outdoor volleyball play mixed with a tavern use is new for Janesville and essentially untested within the city," according to a staff memo.
Staff researched similar businesses elsewhere and found they garnered few complaints. If volleyball was approved, staff recommended against allowing lights.
Some residents were concerned about noise, the lights and drunken drivers in their neighborhood. But others said the city should give the owners a chance.
Plan commission member Meredith Helgerson noted her sister lives next to a bar with a volleyball court in Milwaukee.
"There's some noise, some light, but what she's chosen to do is join them rather than beat them," she said.
Nancy Zolidas, another plan commission member, noted noise has been created for years in the neighborhood by the nearby Little League diamonds.