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Mad Dog Saloon and city seek sane solutions

Aim is to make tavern more 'compatible' with neighbors

June 14, 2010

Greenfield — City officials, neighbors and the Mad Dog Saloon continue to hammer out solutions to various problems.

However, going so far as to revoke the tavern's special-use permit is on the back burner.

The focus now is how to make the bar, 4395 S. 76th St., more "compatible" with the neighborhood and address the issues - including parking, noise, litter and traffic - that neighbors have complained about for the past several months.

Dealing with traffic

For one, Mad Dog will pay for a professional traffic analysis of the area for recommendations on what can be done to keep cars out of residential areas to the west. The bar's attorney, John Fuchs, said the business intends to present the analysis at the Plan Commission's monthly meeting in July.

Some potential solutions could include closing off Allerton Avenue or for Mad Dog to purchase an adjacent property for more parking.

"Essentially, we're trying to isolate Mad Dog Saloon as a property on 76th Street," Fuchs said, and to get vehicles to stop using the neighborhood as a freeway shortcut.

Since the Plan Commission's May meeting, the Greenfield Police Department did a traffic study over a 10-day period on Allerton Avenue, where police were stationed from 12:30 to 3 a.m. each day. Out of a total of 33 vehicles, officers cited eight drivers for various traffic offenses and handed out three warnings. Police did not know how many of those drivers were residents living there.

The Greenfield Board of Public Works, meanwhile, has studied changing parking regulations in the area.

Examples of complaints

Problems came to light earlier this year. In April, Alderman Tom Pietrowski called for a review of the bar's "special-use" permit, saying problems inside and outside the bar had escalated and severely impacted neighbors' quality of life.

Forty residents signed a petition asking the city not to renew the special-use permit. Many spoke out against the bar at Plan Commission and Common Council meetings, with some saying they even have to sleep on different sides of their homes because of the noise.

Many neighbors and city officials pointed to an incident in which a man drove his vehicle over several properties and eventually crashed into a light pole. The driver was at Mad Dog Saloon at some point that night, though it is not entirely clear how much he was served or how long he was there.

Owner Dominic LaLicata, for his part, has said some of the problems are overblown and the bar has been proactive in finding solutions. The owners erected a fence in the back to keep car lights out of the residential area and have several security people dealing with patrons inside and outside the establishment.

Inherent conflicts

Fuchs acknowledged the bar will never be truly compatible with the neighborhood, but neither will any commercial property that is next to a residential area.

"It will never be perfect and we're not pretending we can ever achieve it," he said.

Several Greenfield Plan Commission members during their June meeting said they appreciated Mad Dog's efforts to alleviate problems, and that while they are pro-business, they also have to look out for residents.

Mayor Michael Neitzke - who recently and unsuccessfully tried to veto a measure that allowed a tobacco store to sell alcohol - said one way to stop these problems in Greenfield is fewer taverns.

"(Bars) do have a huge impact on police services," Neitzke said. "The reality is we don't have the resources to have cops (at Mad Dog) every single Friday and Saturday night for two or three hours."

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