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Chippewa bar owners to appeal ruling on commingling

Two Chippewa Street bar owners are moving ahead with their fight to overturn the city’s law that prohibits them from admitting underage patrons, despite legal setbacks.

A lawyer for the bar owners said Monday that they will seek relief from a panel of appellate judges later this spring after an Appellate Division judge on Friday rejected a request that the city’s ban be lifted while the case is heard.

In a decision March 27, Justice James H. Dillon of State Supreme Court rejected the same request.

The plaintiffs – Lux owner Daniel Valentine, the Lodge owner Adam March and a 19-year-old would-be patron – will also continue to pursue the underlying case in State Supreme Court, their attorney, Elizabeth A. Holmes, said Monday.

Dillon’s decision to keep the ban in place as the case is heard rejects several of the lawsuit’s core contentions, including the one that Colin Miller, the 19-year-old plaintiff, is being denied his constitutional right to freely travel if the bars aren’t open to younger patrons.

Also damaging to the plaintiffs’ case is the judge’s finding that before filing the lawsuit, the bar owners did not do all they could in challenging the city’s classification of their establishments, which would affect whether they could admit younger patrons.

“Until such time as an appeal is taken and determined, petitioners have not exhausted their administrative remedies and this litigation is not ripe for judicial review,” Dillon wrote.

Valentine, March and Miller sued the city in January, seeking to overturn the ban, which went into effect in October.

Unlike in other areas of the city, underage patrons are not allowed in bars in the Chippewa Entertainment District on any night of the week. The Common Council had allowed younger patrons to enter Chippewa bars on Thursday nights, but that provision, known as commingling, ended in October and was not renewed.

Since then, Lux, at 75 W. Chippewa, has requested special permits to allow commingling on various nights.

The Lodge, at 79 W. Chippewa, formerly the Bayou, is undergoing renovations and is expected to open soon.