Denison P&Z recommends extending hours for downtown nightclub

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
A 2018 file photo shows the site of the Red Rock Saloon prior to its opening. The Dneison Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to recommend that the city council modify the business' permits to allow it to open on additional days and hours.

A Denison nightclub and dance hall may soon be able to extend its hours. The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending approval of amendments to permits that would allow Red Rock Saloon to operate seven days a week with modified hours.

The saloon, located at 123 W. Woodard St., first opened its doors to the public in 2018 when the city council approved conditional use permits for the site. Initially, the club was allowed to operate Thursday through Saturday from 8 p.m. through 2 a.m. However, organizers are looking to expand this due to increasing demand.

Senior Planner Bill Medina said the dance hall has received only one formal complaint with the city since it opened. The complaint relates to a potential biker gathering at the club on a Sunday, outside of its normal allowed operating hours. City officials said this incident sparked the current conversations about the location's hours.

Under the proposed changes, the club will be able to operate between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m. from Sunday to Wednesday and from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday.

Diana Jenkins, who co-owns the dance hall, said the past 18 months have been hard for the club as it was forced to close down for seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jenkins said she ultimately did not open for the Sunday biker event and instead went to the city regarding modifications to the permit.

The request was met with some opposition from Jenna Zapata, owner of the neighboring Zig Zag Gallery, who voiced concerns about expanding the club's hours. Zapata said that the club has operated outside of its allowed hours in the past.

Zapata also voiced concerns about the club has previously played music so loud it could be heard through the walls of her building. She added that some of the music, along with some of the advertised events taking place at the club, would not be appropriate for children.

Previously, Zapata said she hoped to operate art classes and events on the weekends where minors would be present. While the different times for the two uses have mostly alleviated some issues, Zapata said she worried that the expanded hours could lead to move overlap.

P&Z Chairman Charles Shearer acknowledged Zapata's concerns but noted that the city hasn't received any other complaints against the business. With regard to the business' booked events, Shearer said that falls outside of the purview of the commission, which is interested primarily in land use.

"You are diving into a discrimination of art form there," he said. "What you and I may find distasteful some others might be attracted to."

Commission member Mary Karam expressed some concerns about setting a precedent. By changing the hours, Karam worried that the commission may impact other businesses and their operations. However, city staff said the commission has the discretion to act on a case-by-case basis.

When put to a vote, the commission unanimously agreed to recommend that the city council approve the request.