Tempers flared between the store owner and a councilman.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The Ohio Division of Liquor Control will decide if Christy's Market keeps its liquor license.
The Atlantic Street store was a subject of controversy at Wednesday's city council meeting, with legislators opposing renewal of its liquor license 6-3.
Casting the majority votes were Alford Novak, D-2nd, the legislation's sponsor; Virginia Bufano, D-1st; Dan Polivka, D-at-large; Bob Marchese, D-at-large; Susan Hartman, D-7th; and Helen Rucker, D-6th.
Favoring renewal were Ron White, D-4th; John Homlitas, D-3rd; and Sherry Cox-Calloway, D-at-large.
Brendan Keating, D-5th, abstained, citing a conflict of interest.
Contention: Tempers flared between Novak and Ed Farhan, who runs Christy's.
Novak said the store has a responsibility to deal with the prostitution, illegal drug trade and other crimes on and around the store property. He thinks the store contributes to such problems and Farhan hasn't been cooperative in addressing neighbors' concerns.
Farhan said he's tried to work with the city and has requested help in getting pay phones removed from the lot because they're used for drug trade.
He's run the store since 1994 and before that operated stores in other parts of Warren since the 1970s.
Cited improvements: Farhan said he's improved lighting and cleaned up around the outside.
That lighting is what's helped Peggy Scott to see more clearly what she says are solicitations and drug deals on store property from her home nearby.
"To be truthful, all the security light did was give me a better look at the people doing the drug deals and urinating and defecating behind the store," she told council in a letter. "That is a wonderful thing to watch while you are trying to have dinner.
Scott, a city employee, said Christy's parking lot was the site of a murder last year and noted there have been numerous fights, disturbances, assaults and other crimes.
Mayor Hank Angelo said police are aware of problems and his chief concern is cleaning up prostitution in that area.
Some of Christy's patrons spoke on Farhan's behalf, saying the store is not responsible for the crimes.
White and Keating said they think blame for neighborhood problems is being misplaced.
Support for businesses: "We should be supporting our local businessmen," Keating explained, adding the problems would just move to other areas of the city if Christy's were to close.
Novak accused Farhan of selling glass tubes with decorative paper roses inside, saying they double as crack pipes. He showed council one he said was bought at Christy's Tuesday.
Farhan called Novak a liar, saying the store does not sell them.
Both sides will air their case before the state liquor control agency, which will decide if the store gets to keep its license.
Other cases: Novak, meanwhile, was supported by colleagues when he withdrew legislation opposing renewal of a liquor license at Fiesta at the Waterworks on Mahoning Avenue, the site of similar problems, including a recent parking lot shooting.
The councilman said owners of the tavern have taken measures to make their parking lot safer, including adding security.
Hartman introduced legislation to oppose renewal of a liquor license for Austin Beverage, 2819 W. Market St., and requesting a local hearing.
She said the business was caught selling alcohol to minors in July 1999 and February 2001.