Parking dispute halts plans to build student sports bar

Adjacent parking proves insufficient for building capacity.

A parking dispute has postponed a Ball State alumni's plans to build a sports bar for students.

Muncie's Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals voted 6-1 against Cliff Johnson's parking proposal for the two-story CJ's Neighborhood Sports Bar proposed for 3020 N. Oakwood Ave, where the former King Gyro's restaurant currently sits.

Members of the board said Johnson's efforts to acquire another 38 parking spaces were not valid.

But Johnson says he was denied because the owner of the nearby Ponderosa and King's Title used an attorney, Greg Huffman, to persuade the board against him.

Earlier, Johnson approached Ponderosa's owner and asked to use Ponderosa's parking lot. The owner agreed but asked Johnson to pay $1,500 a month for the spaces, Johnson said. Johnson refused, and ultimately used other businesses' parking spaces.

Johnson provided the board with this information and the notarized contracts with the nearby Northwest Plaza Shopping Center, the Ball State Federal Credit Union and BuffaLouie's restaurant, which will allow sports bar customers to park there.

But Johnson related that the board told him that the contracts were not valid because they could be pulled at any time. He compared his situation to The 909 Grill, 909 N. Wheeling, which was given a variance without the correct amount of parking.

"This isn't about the law," Johnson said. "This whole issue is about him (Ponderosa's owner) not getting his $1,500 a month."

Huffman said Johnson is bringing a hardship on himself by proposing to expand the capacity.

"How many parking spaces do you think he has for 220 people? Twenty-eight," Huffman said.

Johnson would need 66 spots to accommodate a two-story building. Johnson said he would like to see Ball State students get involved because he is trying to build this sports bar for them. He also said he will create a lot of jobs for students as well as entertainment.

"I want people to know that I am doing this for the students at Ball State."

Johnson said he would like anyone who plans on starting their own business to get involved because this affects them as well.

"This is bigger than me. This is about every young entrepreneur trying to start a business," he said.

Junior Dana Williams said she is in favor of Johnson's idea and said it would serve as an asset to the community.

"This would be perfect for students since entertainment and jobs are scarce."

Johnson said he will continue to push for the opening of his bar.

"I want people to know that CJ's Neighborhood Sports Bar is going to open no matter what."


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