Posts Tagged ‘Rolla Missouri’

“Oh, We’ve got Trouble!”

Welcome to RollaMy blog today is about a business that is relatively new to Rolla, Missouri.   A young entrepreneur by the name of Josh Noe, wanted to open up a  business in Rolla.   From articles that appeared in the Feb. 20th, 2013 Rolla Daily News, and an article in The Guidon, a military newspaper at Fort Leonard Wood, Mr. Noe emphasized that he wanted to open up a Family Entertainment Complex with a restaurant, fun indoor games for the whole family, that there would also be a concert stage to bring in bands, and a small bar area for  those 21 years and older.   Time marched on  and the troubles began for Fat Cats, the name of Mr. Noe’s business, using one of his grandfather’s nicknames.

I have  lived in Rolla for almost 2 years now, and from doing some  reading, I discovered that Fat Cats, located off of Highway 72 and behind The Family Center store, is located in the former Magic Lantern Skating Rink.  How long the rink was in operation I don’t know, and how long that  building sat empty until Mr. Noe came in with his business I don’t know.  Mr. Noe doesn’t own the property or the building, it is owned by the Charlotte Barrack Trust  and Mr. Noe is renting space for his business from this Trust.  Surrounding Fat Cats is a residential neighborhood and therein lies the problem.  From 9:00 p.m., until closing, Fat Cats only allows 18 year olds and older into its Family Entertainment Center.  It becomes a bar at that point, and on Friday and Saturday nights live bands perform.  The neighborhoods surrounding Fat Cats are upset by the noise.  I happened to catch the public cable access channel 2 weeks ago and it was a Rolla Zoning Commission Meeting  and they were discussing Mr. Noe’s request for new zoning to allow his business to be designated as a tavern/bar.   I watched as a few of the residents told the Commission about the noise problems they have been enduring.  One family has to send their small children to sleep at a grandparent’s home on Friday and Saturday nights because the noise is so overwhelming!  Another gentleman got up and said how he has called the police department about the noise  and the officers heard the noise from the gentleman’s home, they could see how it was having a negative impact. Another gentleman spoke how he has to rise very early for his job and the noise is interfering with his trying to get a good night’s sleep.  Only one lady spoke in defense of Fat Cats at this meeting.  She shared how she had taken out of town relatives with children there and all had had  an enjoyable time.  She said Fat Cats is wanting to add ping pong tables and she hopes the next time she is there that she can enjoy a cocktail while she plays ping pong.  I chuckled at that because ping pong games and cocktails don’t exactly come to my mind  as ” go together”  activities!  Also, according to Fat Cats’s  rules, alcoholic beverages are not to be in the game playing areas when children are there, so the lady who spoke would only be allowed to enjoy her cocktail and ping pong after 9:00 p.m.

The neighborhood has said they don’t wish Mr. Noe and his business venture ill will, but to  state that it’s going to be a Family Entertainment Center, restaurant, (which it was noted at an April 27th, 2013 Rolla City Council meeting that there is no restaurant at Fat Cats as there is no kitchen, only a microwave, so to claim there is a restaurant is false,) and to learn that the main focus seems to be on getting upgraded to a bar/tavern and to continue to promote concerts, seems like false advertising.

The Rolla City Council, at it’s May 8th, 2013 meeting told Fat Cats  that it cannot be rezoned for the bar/tavern, but that if Mr. Noe and the Charlotte Barrack Trust  file, in 2 weeks time, the proper paperwork that falls in line with the city’s new ordinance regarding Family Entertainment Recreation Complexes, than Fat Cats can keep on serving alcoholic beverages as it has been doing since it opened.  Currently Fat Cats falls under C-7 Zoning that the serving of alcohol is allowed as long as the sales don’t exceed 50% of the restaurant’s gross income.  To me, it shouldn’t have received that zoning as there is no restaurant at Fat Cats!  There is a snack bar or concessions stand, but that is  a far cry from a restaurant.

At the Zoning Commission meeting that I watched on tv,  discussions about a high wall around Fat Cats was brought forth,  to help with the easing of the noise problem.  I couldn’t  find  any information if a wall has been built or not; the city’s fire chief did say that if a wall is built it would have to meet fire code requirements.   Not being one to study zoning ordinances and business codes, it does seem to me that this situation hasn’t been a win-win for anyone.   The facts as I see them:  First, a  family owns a property that formerly housed a family entertainment business that was compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood.  Second, that business closed and the building was empty until a young man had an idea for putting a new business in the building.  Third, the new business wants  to provide good, clean, family-friendly entertainment and have a restaurant, and  there would be concerts  on Friday and Saturday nights and alcohol would need to be served.    Four, the business doesn’t have a restaurant and  the noise from the concerts on Friday and Saturday nights is unbearable for the residents living near the building.  Six, this type of business isn’t compatible with a residential neighborhood.

It seems to me that whoever gave Mr. Noe the okay to operate his business was in the wrong.  I am not saying that his business is bad, but the location is.  A bar/tavern in a residential neighborhood? If his business were just Family Entertainment, as the former skating rink was, no concerts and no alcohol being served, than there wouldn’t be any problems.   What’s going to happen when any of these residents want to sell their houses  in the future?  Do you think they’ll be able to find many buyers who want to live next door to Fat Cats?  Mr.  Noe should have been encouraged to seek out other empty buildings away from residential neighborhoods as better places to host his business.  In summing up my musings, I think of that song from The Music Man, “Well, you’ve got trouble, my friends, right here in River City, with a capital T that rhymes with P that stands for pool!”…but this time the T in Trouble isn’t the specific business, it’s whoever said it was okay to allow it to happen in a residential neighborhood.

Change, change, change

Panorama of St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Panorama of St. Louis, Missouri, United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In April of 2009, my husband trudged in the door, on a weekday afternoon.  He was home much too soon, and walked in while the homeschooling lessons were in full swing.  We quickly found out why he was home too soon, he had just been layed off from his job.  Sigh, big sigh, and I tried to stifle my worries, cramming them down deep into my being.  Fortunately, we didn’t have much debt, just a house payment.  We were able to get by on my returning to teaching, albeit as a substitute, for our local school district, and I also babysat a neighbor’s child.    My husband was able to find part-time work with 5 different jobs, and job hunting in between those.  The St. Louis, Missouri area was just not hiring, not for chemical engineers which is my husband’s field,  and as much as we hated to do so, my husband began job searching outside of the area.  After 16 months of being underemployed, making do with what we were earning from substitute teaching, babysitting, and 5 part-time jobs, my husband was offered a chemical engineering job in Rolla, Missouri.  Almost 2 hours, southwest of St.  Louis.

The University of Missouri at Rolla's half-sca...

The University of Missouri at Rolla's half-scale Stonehenge replica built from solid granite. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was so grateful that my husband was once again gainfully employed!!  To celebrate, we took our children out to dinner, something we had not done much of for 16 months, to Emperer’s Palace, an Asian restaurant that all of us really enjoyed eating at for special occasions.  My husband began his new job in September of 2010, and for the rest of that school year, the kids and I stayed in our home in Florissant, Missouri, and my husband stayed in Rolla, only coming to see us on the weekends.  As January of 2011 approached, my husband evaluated his work with the new company.  He really enjoyed the new job, the new company, and was glad that he had accepted the offer to work there.  It was now time to be a family again, albeit all in the same place.  In June, we made the move to Rolla, Missouri, saying good-bye to many friends.  We had lived in Florissant for almost 20 years, so this was going to be a big change for all of us.  Our oldest, in the USMC, serving in Japan, was missing all of this excitement and stress, but we kept him abreast of all the changes as fast as we could.

Change can be unsettling.  Change can be exciting.  Change can be sought after, or it can be placed upon one unexpectedly.  I found the forced change for our family as bittersweet.  Sweet that husband was gainfully employed once again, that the emergency fund at the bank could be built back up, that I could stop substitute teaching!!  Bitter that we would have to start all over, meeting new people, getting used to a new community, after being in our current surroundings for almost 20 years.  Saying good-bye to our church, First Christian, would be very hard, as many of our friends were through our church, serving together there, worshiping together there, sharing baby news, going to weddings, funerals;many of the good friends there were like family for us, since our parents, siblings, childrens’ cousins were all in the east, in Ohio and North Carolina.   We were also going to have to face the bitter fact of preparing our beloved house for the market, to sell it, and this we knew, was going to be an onerous task.  Not so much due to the house’s condition, but due to the housing market.    I will continue our adventures in house selling in another blog, very soon!