A Bangor nightclub that has been the scene of violent altercations and garnered noise complaints from neighbors for years needs to take steps to clean up its act if it’s going to maintain an essential license.
Patrick Brann, who owns Half Acre Nightclub and the property at 190 Harlow St. where it’s located, must come up with a few ideas for mitigating the noise and addressing other disturbances that frequently happen outside his business and present them to the City Council’s Government Operations Committee at its Dec. 5 meeting.
If he fails to do so, Bangor city councilors said Monday they’re prepared to rescind his special amusement license, which allows Half Acre Nightclub to offer music and dancing.
The requirement that Brann come up with ways to reduce noise and violence at his business came as councilors voted 7-2 at their Monday meeting to renew the businesses’ special amusement and liquor licenses for the business, giving Brann a chance to make improvements.
There has been a pattern of violence outside 190 Harlow St., the site of both Half Acre Nightclub and Diamonds Gentleman’s Club, in recent years. On April 24, an altercation outside the nightclub escalated to one person getting shot and wounded. Another shooting took place there in August 2021, and another man was killed there in a 2020 stabbing.
Bangor police regularly respond to calls from the property, with most of them coming between 12 and 1 a.m., Chief Mark Hathaway said. The police force has responded to the property 74 times since the end of October 2021, he said.
Councilor Susan Hawes, who chairs the Government Operations Committee, said Brann started working with the committee in May to explore whether he could lease the city-owned parking lot outside Half Acre. Once leased, Brann would hire additional security personnel to oversee nightclub patrons outside and ensure they stay quiet and peaceful.
Brann was interested in the idea, Hawes said, but didn’t work with the city solicitor to advance the plan.
“If you’re interested in doing that, it should’ve been immediate when you heard from [the city solicitor],” Hawes said. “The deal was you’d draft something up and come back to the committee.”
The hour-and-a-half debate during Monday’s council meeting revealed a misunderstanding between Brann and the Government Operations Committee regarding who was responsible for looking into how Brann can lease the parking lot and hire security.
Hawes said Brann was responsible for working with the city solicitor to develop a plan to lease the parking lot and hire security. Brann, however, said he was “happy to start the legwork and get some details,” but was waiting on another meeting with the Government Operations Committee.
Four Bangor residents who previously lived next to the nightclub or still live there asked councilors not to renew Half Acre’s special amusement and liquor licenses because the owner has seemingly done little to reduce the noise that wakes them up and stop violent episodes that have repeatedly happened in the business’ parking lot.
“All we want is to sleep at night,” said David Case, president of Franklin Place Associates, which oversees the nearby Franklin Place Condominiums. “This is the fourth time in 10 years that I’ve appeared before this council to complain about the noise, mayhem, bad behavior and even criminal activity at Half Acre that deprive its neighbors of a good night’s sleep.”
Brian Hamel, who has lived in the condo complex for 10 years, said noisy Half Acre patrons woke him three separate times between 12 and 2 a.m. last weekend.
“The noise has gotten worse and worse and worse despite how many times we’ve come to the council, met with the owner, and heard the owner say he’s going to do better and implement procedures to stop the noise and violence,” Hamel said. “That hasn’t happened.”
Brann said he has already taken steps to mitigate the noise and bad behavior, including closing at 12:45 a.m. instead of 1 a.m. and hiring security to oversee patrons inside the nightclub and ask them to be quiet as they leave. However, Brann said, he cannot help how patrons behave as they leave his business.
“I do my best to mitigate and keep everyone safe,” Brann said. “I even post on social media asking people to please respect our community and be quiet on your way out. I can’t control if some kid wants to show off and peel up the hill.”
Councilors debated requiring Brann to close the club at midnight instead of 12:45 a.m., but ultimately decided against it after Brann explained that measure would effectively shut his business down.
The nightclub is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, with exceptions for some major holidays, from 9 p.m. to 12:45 a.m., Brann said.
Following the renewal of the business’ special amusement and liquor licenses, Councilor Joe Leonard warned Brann that he needs to take action.
“You’re losing the patience of a lot of people right now,” Leonard said. “You’ve got to make proactive decisions to improve your business and reduce the noise complaints because the next time we’re here, you’re not going to have as many good voices to hear.”