Dansville mayor says bar is operating without a liquor license, violating COVID-19 protocols

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DANSVILLE, N.Y. (WROC) — A bar in Dansville is under fire from the town’s mayor, who said is operating illegally. The mayor said this bar is violating COVID-19 guidelines and technically isn’t an official business.

Mayor Peter Vogt said this bar, formerly known as the Town Tavern, has groups of people inside every night without masks and who aren’t socially distancing. He also said they’re operating without a liquor license, which the NYS Liquor Authority confirmed. Vogt said they are accepting donations, but aren’t formally charging for drinks. The owner said he’s not doing anything illegal because the bar is his private property.

Vogt said the former Town Tavern is under a new owner, but that owner hasn’t officially opened the place for business.

“One thing I heard was he claimed it was private residence, well he doesn’t live there,” Vogt said. “It sounds like a bar in every sense of the word so I don’t know why people can’t do something about it, they’re in there dancing, playing pool, playing loud music. Our law also says you can’t have a residence anyway on the ground level of any store over town.”

We asked the owner for an interview, but he declined, only saying he’s not doing anything illegal because this is his private property.

Jason Howard owns Jack’s Place next door. He said if this owner wants to open a business, he should do so by the books.

“From what I understand, he doesn’t have a liquor license or health permit and he’s running it as a social club or a private residence so I’ve heard and he accepts donations or not at all, and lets certain people in but is open all hours. I don’t think its fair to the rest of the businesses,” Howard said.

The mayor said he was told by police the Liquor Authority said it wasn’t high on their priority list to check out this bar.

When News 8 contacted the Liquor Authority, they told us they brought charges against the previous owner for running their business off the books. The Liquor Authority cancelled its liquor license on August 7. They also tell us there are no pending applications for a new license for this location. They said if this business is selling or giving away alcohol without a license, they are illegally trafficking alcohol. However, because the bar doesn’t have a license it’s out of the liquor authority’s hands and up to local police.

Vogt said the police responded to a noise complaint at the bar about a week and a half ago. He said the sergeant told him the owner escorted him out and said it was a private affair and he had no business being there.

News 8 stopped in and talked to an officer at the Dansville Police Department on Thursday, who told us no one was available to talk to us. An officer followed up on Friday, and said they will not be making a comment. They encourage anyone with concerns about the bar to contact the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, and Dansville PD will then investigate those complaints.

The mayor said the sergeant also told him the health department said unless it’s a COVID issue, they can’t get involved in it.

News 8 reached out to the Livingston County Health Department, and they said they’ve gotten several complaints about the bar, but they don’t oversee bars or places serving alcohol. They also said this issue would be up to local police.

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