Visions Nightclub to ‘contest vigorously’ as City Attorney’s Office seeks to revoke liquor license

Visions Nightclub to ‘contest vigorously’ as City Attorney’s Office seeks to revoke liquor license

The Madison City Attorney’s Office is seeking to revoke the liquor license at Visions Nightclub, eight months after a shooting and stabbing outside the building injured multiple people.

Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy cited multiple violations of city ordinances in a 56-page document asking the city’s common council to revoke the nightclub’s Class B liquor license and 21+ entertainment license of the nightclub on East Washington Avenue.

Jeff Scott Olson, the lawyer representing Visions, told News 3 Now he is still reviewing the complaint but his plan is “to contest vigorously.”

Olson said he and the nightclub’s owners will all appear before the city’s Alcohol License Review Committee on Wednesday, after they were summoned by the City Clerk’s Office.

The complaint alleges that neighbors living near the nightclub have complained to the city and alders for years about disturbances at Visions that negatively impacted their quality of life.

Alder Grant Foster said he wants to hear what Visions’ owners have to say but said he is “quite concerned” by the complaint from the City Attorney’s Office.

“From a number of the residents I’ve spoken with, (the nightclub) has not been a positive influence in their neighborhood for decades, so I think dismissing those concerns would be problematic,” Foster said.

The document lists more than 50 times since 2012 when officers from the Madison Police Department were dispatched or went to Visions or the surrounding area because of disturbances.

Olson said Visions is not to blame for issues in the neighborhood, but rather the convenience store next to the nightclub.

“If there’s problems in that neighborhood from disorderly persons …. they’re more likely from the Kwik Trip than from Visions,” Olson said.

In December 2018, multiple people were hospitalized after a shooting and stabbing at the nightclub, leading the area’s former alder to circulate a petition seeking to revoke the liquor license.

Kwik Trip drastically scaled back its hours after the shooting, changing from a 24-hour store to closing every night at midnight.

Several days after the shooting, Madison police and city officials met with the nightclub’s owners to discuss Visions’ security plan, according to the complaint from the City Attorney’s Office.

The complaint says a city building inspector saw a number of issues that concerned him, including unpermitted work in the basement and viewing booths on the main floor that he believed were not approved for construction.

The building inspector discovered an official notice was issued in September 2004 directing Visions to remove the booths and go through the appropriate approval process.

On Dec. 14, 2018, he issued an official notice directing Visions to obtain the required building permit and inspections for the booths that were installed without approval. As of Aug. 15, Visions had not complied with the official notice, according to the complaint.

But Olson told News 3 Now that Visions got conditional approval for the construction work inside on April 19.

The complaint also alleges that a special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue went to Visions to perform multiple compliance checks in June 2019. During the first visit, he discovered there was no licensed operator on the premises. During the second check, the agent discovered Visions was not buying alcohol from a licensed wholesaler, and instead, they were buying bottles at retail and refilling them on site.

The common council had previously granted a renewal of Visions’ liquor and adult entertainment licenses until June 30, 2020, according to the complaint.

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