Sequim City Council discusses noise complaints over Krush Ultra Lounge
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Bartender James Finnen serves up a beer at Krush Ultra Lounge at 10181 Old Olympic Highway in Sequim. — Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– City officials are taking a close look at a restaurant in the north part of the city after Council member Erik Erichsen told of fielding complaints from neighbors.

“I’ve gotten a lot of calls,” Erichsen said at Monday’s special City Council meeting.

“I think we need to let them know the city is working to resolve the issue.”

Joe McLaughlin, owner of the Krush Ultra Lounge in Rock Plaza at the roundabout corner of Old Olympic Highway and Sequim-Dungeness Way, said his business is being unfairly targeted because it is set outside the city’s main core.

“It’s new and it’s a little different, and we play music at 7 in the afternoon,” McLaughlin said.

“But we’re being singled out because of a few people that aren’t used to that and happen to live nearby.”

Erichsen said neighbors of the restaurant have asked him since it opened in April what the city can do to keep down noise and traffic from the restaurant.

He reported more calls after several events were held there over the holiday season, including a New Year’s Eve burlesque show.

“Burlesque is interesting because it’s kind of the classic test of speech limits,” City Attorney Craig Ritchie said.

City Manager Steve Burkett called several city officials in to Monday morning’s meeting discuss what actions the city could take to appease neighbors.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Burkett said, adding that there was “not much you can do about that because of our laws and constitutions.”

Burkett suggested the city could use “more sophisticated enforcement” of its noise ordinance, but other officials said the restaurant hadn’t broken any of the city’s codes.

“Nobody is subject to enforcement because of complaints,” Ritchie said.

Police Chief Bill Dickinson told the council that any noise and alcohol troubles from Krush have been limited and quickly resolved.

“They have been compliant,” he said.

The chief added that Krush’s violations are “not as much as other establishments in town.”

Krush has hosted several events since it opened, including the city’s centennial beard and mustache contest on Memorial Day.

Erichsen said a hip-hop concert Dec. 27 generated a number of calls, as did the New Year’s Eve burlesque show.

McLaughlin said that while some of his restaurant’s events may “not be loved by the entire neighborhood,” he and his employees try to keep the noise down in the evening.

He added that they have raised thousands of dollars and donations for local charities with benefit concerts.

“The question people need to ask is, what part do we play in the Sequim community?” McLaughlin said.

“I put on events here that are for the community and make Sequim a better place.

“That helps pay my employees. That helps pay my taxes.”

Chris Hugo, community development director, said he might take a closer look at Krush’s operations.

It was permitted as a restaurant, Hugo said, but if the city determined it was operating more as a bar or a theater, it would be subject to different restrictions.

“It sounds like . . . right now, all we can do is throw up our hands and say, ‘We’re stuck,’” said Council member Ted Miller.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 08. 2014 7:37PM
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