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Heated testimony and allegation of ‘smear campaign’ during extensive hearing on Meridian night club proposal

BoiseDev first told you about a proposal for a new nightclub in Meridian early this year.

More than 200 people submitted public testimony to the Meridian Planning and Zoning Commission in response to The Oasis, a 7,000 square foot nightclub that could come to 3185 E. Ustick Rd.Roughly 75% of those comments were against the venue.

Making his case

Applicant Brian Tsai said many of the comments opposed to the club amounted to a “smear campaign” and said many of the comments against the venue were just copies of the same letter.

“Some of the residents that are living in the area that support the project, including five of which who live within this (500-foot noticing) radius (and) said they had received flyers on their doorstep claiming that our facility was intended to operate as a strip club including outdoor music and lights that would be distracting,” he said. “And others have claimed that we had paid to promote prostitution from our facility, none of which could be further from the truth.”

It appears he meant to say a rumor of prostitution was untrue. Tsai testified he has been wanting to open something like this in Meridian for years.

[Going up: Old Town Lofts in Meridian takes shape as downtown area begins to change]

“I was very disheartened to see the letters of opposition for something that I spent almost my entire life putting together,” he said. “This is something for the entire community to enjoy. This project is a cumulation of over a decade worth of ideas and with that includes every penny I’ve made in those last ten years and then some… It’s a multi-purpose venue that can be enjoyed by all ages, family uses, all walks of life, and the community.”

The Oasis would function as a multi-purpose venue, which would mean certain areas could serve adults 21-and-up, while other areas could make room for events for all ages. Tsai said the project would operate as more than just a nightclub.

“We’ve already pledged over $20,000 of free venue use to the City of Meridian, several nonprofit organizations and community uses including both child and teenage programs due to the multiple-use nature of the building,” he said.

Testimony, deliberation

The testimony, public comment, and discussion of The Oasis surpassed three hours. With questions surrounding safety, parking, drunk driving, security, and capacity coming up often.

Several residents came forward to testify about traffic, parking and noise.

“I’m am Idaho native and like I said I love the music and the arts and all that but I don’t want to see this going so close to our neighborhood and other neighborhoods,” Meridian resident Joyce Mock said. “I think there’s better places for a venue like this and I do think people who wrote in their concerns need to be valued for what they wrote in. And although a lot of them are probably sounding a lot alike… I don’t think you can dismiss those.”

After hearing the testimony from both sides, the P&Z commission went back and forth on a decision.

“I have to admit I’m a little conflicted on this one,” Commissioner Steven Yearsley said. “I understand what he wants to do, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to do. I am concerned with how close it is to a residential. He keeps stating that the noise won’t be greater than the road, which the road noise is pretty loud itself…My two big concerns are the sound and the parking.”

The Oasis would go up on the same block as the proposed new VillaSport club. The commission requested Tsai reach a cross-parking agreement with the owner of VillaSport. They also requested dedicated space for rideshare, at least 170 parking stalls, and that the applicant work more closely with Meridian Police on safety protocol.

The commission decided to continue the discussion of the Conditional Use Permit request to May 6 to give the applicant more time. Residents can only submit additional public testimony for the current requests related to the CUP.

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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