Judge grants The GOAT another hearing to determine if Carmel bar can stay in business

The GOAT restaurant and bar has won the latest round in its legal fight with Carmel, but the victory might prove to be short-lived.

Hamilton Superior Court Judge Jonathan Brown issued an order Monday that requires the Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals to toss out its April 26 vote to deny the bar a special-use variance that would have allowed it to stay open. At that meeting, the board spoke about patrons’ inappropriate behavior and ultimately denied The GOAT’s request to continue operating the business on a residentially zoned property.

In his order, Brown bases his decision on Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt’s opinion that the Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals failed to adhere to state transparency laws when it formalized the vote.

Brown said he was ordering the BZA’s ruling to be vacated because of the violation of the Open Door Laws and not for any other reasons. He said the BZA, which is scheduled to meet next on July 26, must conduct a new hearing that complies with transparency laws. Carmel has 30 days to appeal the ruling if it chooses.

“The process of approving or denying variance petitions, rezoning property, and changing ordinances, all require transparency by our elected officials,” Brown wrote.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Carmel said the “BZA is weighing its options about how to proceed.”

The GOAT will remain closed, but a new BZA meeting would give it another chance to convince officials that it deserves to reopen under a special-use variance.

Kevin Paul, who co-owns The GOAT, Brockway Pub and Danny Boy Beer Works in Carmel with his wife, Megan, opened The Greatest of All Taverns at 220 2nd St. SW in Carmel last summer. Paul did not respond to IBJ’s requests for comment about the latest legal decision.

Neighbors almost immediately began complaining of unruly patron behavior at the bar, including public urination, late-night noise, trespassing and other nuisance activities.

City officials then reviewed the property’s zoning and found they’d overlooked the fact that the bar’s operations were outside of the special-use variances that had been granted to Bub’s Cafe, a breakfast restaurant that had previously operated on the property.

What unfolded then was a set of temporary restrictions meant to address the issues, physical improvements to the building and plans for additional restrooms to be built.

Despite those measures, the board voted 4-1 in April to deny Paul the variance, forcing him to close the establishment.

Paul — through his companies Tomahawk Holdings LLC, The Greatest of All Taverns, LLC d/b/a The GOAT and Danny Boy Beer Works, LLC — filed a petition with the Hamilton Superior Court on May 4 for judicial review of the BZA’s ruling and to reverse the decision.

During those proceedings, Paul filed a complaint with Britt to say that the board violated Open Door Laws by adopting its findings of fact outside of a public meeting. Britt, in an advisory opinion, agreed.

Dan McFeely, the city’s spokesman, said the city did not have a comment on the matter as of Tuesday afternoon.

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