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City: Downtown bar’s water sprinkler appeal withdrawn

Appeal hearing notice posted at the Main Street Bar & Grill (March 9, 2019). Photo courtesy of Ali Hawkinson

A Hearing Examiner Meeting had been scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, March 11th, to hear a business owner’s appeal of a City of Ferndale requirement for fire suppression sprinklers. But, as of late Friday afternoon, it was announced by City staff the meeting had been canceled due to the appeal having been withdrawn.

The fire suppression requirement came as a result of a fire code inspection in October 2018 that determined the Main Street Bar & Grill, located at 2005 Main Street, met the definition of a “nightclub” and was therefore required to conform to building and fire code requirements that applied to nightclubs. These included the requirement for the building to be equipped with a fire suppression water sprinkler system.

In the absence of the sprinklers, the City said “no concerts or dancing or listening to music from a DJ” was permitted. The Main Street Bar & Grill was known for drawing large crowds with live bands every Friday and Saturday night.

Then owner of the Main Street Bar & Grill, John Wirts, appealed the nightclub definition. This allowed the music to continue, at least until the appeal could be heard.

In the mean time, Wirts and Michael Crow began discussing selling the business to Crow. By the end of January, the business had been sold to Crow. Given the new ownership, the City was reported to have withheld issuing a business license to Crow unless he agreed to not allow music performances until sprinklers were installed. Crow agreed and was issued the license.

Empty stage at the Main Street Bar & Grill
Empty stage at the Main Street Bar & Grill (January 22, 2019). Photo courtesy of John Wirts

Crow had debated on how to go forward after purchasing the business. Ultimately saying he was investigating options for installing a sprinkler system in the near future.

Wirts’ appeal had remained in process even though he was no longer the owner. Wirts had said the City’s actions had damaged his business and reduced his business’ sale price.

The announcement came late Friday that the appeal had been withdrawn. According to City staff, Wirts’ attorney had withdrawn the appeal. Wirts is now a full-time employee elsewhere and did not immediately respond to clarify what had occurred to change his mind.

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