By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
The Westminster City Council voted 4-0 on Wednesday, with Mayor Margie Rice abstaining, to deny Sensation Dance owner Kimmie Vuong a permit to serve beer and wine because her business is too close to residences, across the street from a church and already near six other venues that sell alcohol.
Sensation Dance is at 7697 Westminster Blvd. Aside from giving dance lessons, Sensation Dance hosts social dances some nights. Patrons had asked Vuong to allow alcohol at those events.
The council approved Kevin Le’s similar application by a 4-1 vote, with Rice voting no. Le wants to convert his music studio in the Asian Garden Mall in Little Saigon into a music lounge. The mall is at 15045 Moran St.
Public pressure swayed the council against Vuong. More than a dozen members of the First Presbyterian Church of Westminster spoke against her application.
“Do we really want to be a city that would open a nightclub across from a church?” asked John Furman, pastor of First Presbyterian.
Sensation Dance is not a nightclub, Vuong insisted, along with some of her clientele. Instead, the studio caters to an older, respectable crowd.
“There’s a big difference between Sensation Dance and a nightclub,” said Sarah Henry, a Westminster resident and patron of the studio. “We’re not there to get drunk or to ‘bump and grind’ with anyone.”
Nobody protested Le’s application. Kathy Bucho, representing the property owner, said no one else in the area sells alcohol and the business is not near churches, schools or residences.
Le’s proposed lounge also fits into the city’s plan to bring entertainment and nightlife to Little Saigon.
“The plan is congruent with what the city wants for that area,” said Andy Quach, councilmember.
Vuong’s application had been approved by the Planning Commission, though against staff recommendations. But Furman appealed the decision to the council.
The commission originally denied Le’s application. But Quach brought the case to the council on behalf of Le. Quach stressed that even though his name was on the appeal, he would be impartial.
But Rice said she couldn’t be impartial in Vuong’s case because she had been to Sensation Dance on multiple occasions. The Mayor then excused herself and left the room before the council voted.
Rice later voted against Le’s application. If we turned down one, we should turn down the other, she appeared to say to the other council members.
The council will only meet one more time in 2011. The next meeting is Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. Meetings are in the Council Chambers at 8200 Westminster Blvd.