Bar owner: ‘This is not over’

HUDSON – In a petition asking the state to revoke the Zone Entertainment Complex’s liquor license, the town claims the bar is a public nuisance and threat to public safety.

However, the bar’s owner says allegations the town has used to make its claim in the petition have been blown out of proportion.

“This is not over,” said Zone owner David Daigneault, who said he had read the petition and would be contacting his lawyer Monday.

According to a press release the town issued Friday, town officials claim Hudson police have responded to the Zone 34 times this year.

The document specified an Aug. 21, shooting incident in front of the business involving rival motorcycle gangs, during which two men were shot.

The release stated that employees of the Zone may have played a role in the shooting and cited an ongoing police investigation.

“In a Verified Petition, the Board of Selectmen cited The Zone as being a public nuisance and more importantly, posing a significant threat to the overall safety of the Town of Hudson, its residents and businesses,” the release states.

When reached Friday night, Daigneault said he had received the petition via certified mail earlier in the day and was livid to see that the town had included routine police patrols and incidents near his business as part of the 34 incidents used to back up their claim against his bar.

“They are blaming me for theft in the parking lot. That is not my fault,” Daigneault said.

The Zone Entertainment Complex was formerly two separate establishments – Club Euphoria and Backstreet Bar and Grill.

Daigneault owned the former Backstreet Bar and Grill for about four years, then created the Zone Entertainment Complex after buying Club Euphoria about a year ago.

Daigneault acknowledged the seriousness of the August shooting and said he too had suspected that two of his former employees, a female bar manager and a doorman, may have been involved in the incident.

He said he fired the doorman immediately after the incident and the bar manager was fired two weeks later.

Since the shooting, Daigneault said the bar has primarily been a family-run business and that all of his employees have worked hard to keep trouble-makers out of the bar.

“I run a dart league, a pool league, most of my customers are 30 years old or above, and 75 percent of them are Hudson residents,” Daigneault said.

He said since the shooting, police have been called to the club one time, an October incident involving two men who were fist-fighting in the parking lot. “It’s a bar. You are going to have that,” Daigneault said.

While issuing a press release stating some of the reasons why the town is looking to have the license revoked, town officials themselves remained mum and provided few details to back up some of the charges.

Police Chief Richard Gendron declined to comment, referring questions to the town’s attorney, Steve Buckley, who also declined to comment.

The Liquor Commission received the petition this week, but Aidan Moore, chief of licensing and enforcement, declined to release it Friday, saying commissioners had not yet seen it.

The Board of Selectmen voted Nov. 23 to submit the petition, but discussed its reasons for doing so in nonpublic session.

While local governing bodies can petition the commission to revoke a liquor license, this is the first time a town has done so, according to Moore.

The commission has 10 working days to review the petition before deciding whether to ask for more information, deny the petition or schedule a hearing.

Among the grounds for holding a hearing are negative impact on residents’ quality of life such as increased crime or disorderly behavior, litter or increased traffic; a negative economic impact on neighboring businesses; and a continual disregard of state law or administrative rules.

Petitions are typically viewed as a last resort that are undertaken after communities have worked with the business to try to correct a situation, according to Moore.

“This is the first time (the commission) will have an actual petition to take into consideration,” he said. “(The commission) will want to be deliberate and precise so both the community and business will have an opportunity to be heard.”

Last month, Daigneault said he was stunned to learn that the board wanted his license revoked. After learning about the petition the day before Thanksgiving, Daigneault said he attempted to talk to the board the following week but was rebuffed. “They wouldn’t talk to me. They said it was a closed meeting,” he said.

He said he then paid a visit to the Hudson Police Department and spoke with both Gendron and police Capt. Ray Mello, who he said verified his claim that police had been summoned to his club on only one occasion since the August shooting.

Now, Daigneault said he would be contacting his lawyer to handle discussions that he said the board should have attempted earlier.

“I think it’s a damn shame. They should have called me down to a meeting to discuss this,” Daigneault said.