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Bumpin Bernie's public hearing

A sign notifying the public about a meeting sits outside Bumpin Bernie's Oct. 24 in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — Bumpin Bernie’s is once again facing the prospect of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission forcing it to close earlier.

At an Oct. 24 meeting, police asked commissioners to make the bar close earlier because of a high number of calls for service at that location — including for fights and other disturbances in the back parking lot in the wee hours of the morning. But after hearing from Bumpin Bernie’s about what it brings to downtown and its efforts to improve the situation, the commission decided to give the bar a little more time to get things under control.

On Tuesday, the issue will come up for a second consideration, and police haven’t changed their stance. The commission has been asked to either revoke the bar’s special use permit, or amend it so the bar has to close at 1:30 a.m.

“Staff is very supportive for what their concerns are and feels it’s appropriate,” said Renee Carraway-Johnson, zoning and development manager for the city of Twin Falls.

The bar’s special use permit allows it to be open past 10 p.m., with permitted hours until 3 a.m. on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Bumpin Bernie’s turns into a dance/hangout after 1:30 a.m. on these days.

Co-owner Burhan Hetemi said that since October, things couldn’t have gone any better.

“I hired more security guards,” he said. “I talk to my customers that come in. Everybody has respect for us.”

Hetemi said his seven security guards have watched the back parking lot for trouble, and pick up debris around the business. There has been no trouble at the bar, he said.

Police, however, have documented 15 calls for service at Bumpin Bernie’s since the last public hearing — though some of those could have been traffic reports.

“I don’t know how that’s possible,” Hetemi said. “There’s legitimately been nothing in our parking lot whatsoever.”

Police records state that on Oct. 27, a man said he was punched in the face at Bumpin Bernie’s. Police arrested a suspect after finding his car at another downtown business.

At 2:46 a.m. Nov. 12, a caller reported a group of men “talking junk” and throwing items at their car. They were also harassing women and tried to start fights with other men, the caller reported.

Other calls involved noise complaints.

According to police records, there have been 122 calls for service associated with 139 Shoshone St. N. between Jan. 1 and Dec. 8 of this year. Those numbers, again, also include things like traffic stops, which may not be related to activities at the business. Of the calls this year, there were 26 reports generated where a crime occurred.

At the previous hearing, Hetemi had explained that most issues were occurring in the Urban Renewal Agency parking lot behind his business. He since reached out to the URA.

“We placed a ‘No Loitering’ sign in there, which allows police to enforce at a different level,” URA Executive Director Nathan Murray said.

The URA will revisit a need for better lighting in the parking lot and alley — but not until the end of 2018 and first part of 2019, Murray said, in conjunction with utility upgrades.

Meanwhile, Hetemi is facing a misdemeanor charge in court after being cited in August for failure to destroy the state stamp on emptied liquor containers. The state requires bars to destroy the Idaho Liquor Dispensary stamp by crossing or rubbing it off after a bottle is emptied.

In October, the bar had been let off with this warning by chairman Tom Frank: “You guys got to get control. They’re your customers, whether they go in the building or not.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission considers the request at its meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The commissioners could revoke the bar’s special use permit, deny the request to revoke it, or amend it to force the bar to close earlier.

Also at the meeting, the commission will have public hearings for the following:

  • A request to revoke a special use permit granted to Acorn Learning Center to operate a private school offering pre-school through fifth grade in a portion of a professional office building at 493 Eastland Drive.
  • A request for a zoning title amendment that would allow a wedding chapel and event center as a permitted use in some parts of the area of impact.
  • A request for a zoning change on a small parcel of land at Canyon Falls Road and Harrison Street. The owner would also like to vacate a public utility easement in order to develop the parcel for a Papa Murphy’s Take and Bake Pizza and two retail buildings.
  • A request to amend a planned unit development agreement at the College of Southern Idaho to allow residence halls and rooming houses as a permitted use; and to raise the maximum building height from 35 feet to 50 feet.

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