Lakewood residents say enough is enough for mega-nightclub

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on April 17, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Updated Sunday, Apr 17 at 10:23 PM

Far West nightclub

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DALLAS — The fight against a Dallas "mega-nightclub" is growing, with some neighbors signing petitions and others pleading for a shutdown.

The club, Far West, is at Garland Road and Gaston Avenue near White Rock Lake. Two years ago, some neighbors went after the club's 99-year special use permit. They won.

That permit is now set to expire in 2013, but neighborhood associations are not waiting until then.

The pride of the Lakewood neighborhood lies in its towering trees, calm communities and charming homes. But, for some families, one neighbor doesn't make the cut.

They want Far West to be shut down.

"They have not been a good neighbor, no," said Dolores Wolfe. "We hope to have a better neighbor when they are gone."

Thirteen neighborhood associations filed a complaint in March against Far West and the OK Sports Bar with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

"We are concerned about the safety of the community and the safety of the people who go to this club," said Wolfe, who represents the coalition of neighborhood groups. She lives less than a mile and a half from Far West.

"The violence is getting increasingly worse and far more violent," Wolfe said. "These are not just a couple of boys having a fight at a nightclub."

According to police records, officers have responded to 30 incidents since April of last year; 18 in the last four months. Offenses range from theft to aggravated assault.

In March, someone stabbed a man in the parking lot.

In February, a driver intentionally rammed his vehicle into another.

And in January, a fight at the club led to a highway chase and shooting. A bullet hit a man in the leg.

"As we walked up, we noticed every single car's passenger window was knocked out," said Elijah Mabli, who complained that some club patrons park illegally on his street, and that break-ins are a problem.

"There's always glass," he said. "I always have to sweep up and down here from all the broken windows."

There's no doubt Far West draws a crowd. The venue is more than 30,000 square feet, bringing in famous Latino artists. Nearly every weekend, the parking lot is packed.

Far West owner Alfredo Hinojosa said he was surprised to learn about the neighborhood unhappiness.

"Nobody complained to us. Nobody talked to us," he said. "Nobody has knocked on our door and says, 'Look, you got to do better.' It just... it appeared, the complaint came up, out of nowhere."

Hinojosa said he hires at least six off-duty Dallas police officers for every event, and the incidents reported are low when compared to other clubs.

"They think it's a bar with fights and people shooting each other. It's not like that," he said.

Dallas police confirmed to News 8 it is investigating the nightclub, along with the TABC.

According to Dallas Fire-Rescue, the club was cited for overcrowding in early April and it continues to monitor the business.

Hinojosa said he hopes he can still work out an agreement with his neighbors. "I'm a great neighbor; I am," he insisted. "Whatever we can do to fix the problem — if there's a problem — we'll try to address it."

But for those backing the complaint, enough is enough. They plan to file another one in November to protest the club's liquor license, which expires in December.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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