According to a Manassas Journal-Messenger article the owner of Rack & Roll Billiards is upping the ante in the fight with the Manassas Park City Council and Mayor and has filed suit against them. The lawsuit looks pretty desperate to me, and I give it a very slim chance of being successful. A major weakness in the suit is that it appears to name the wrong defendents.
Regardless, this continuing story exemplifies what can happen when a business owner and the local politicians and bureaucrats fail to establish a functional working dialog. The business is an eyesore to some degree, and there appears to have been some issues regarding permits and activity at the establishment which the business owner David Ruttenberg could have managed much better. The municipal reaction to this dysfunctional relationship has been to raid the establishment in 2004 with a huge SWAT team in order to discover a whopping two instances of mislabeled packaging on an alcoholic beverage, put the establishment under a microscope with undercover police officers, and to perhaps browbeat the owner with conditional use permit requirements ever since.
Often in these instances it’s up to the municipality to display the level of maturity needed in order to achieve a resolution, as the emotional component for some business owners makes that somewhat of a challenge. To their credit, the City Council at least is providing the appearance of this maturity of late, and seems to have been giving Mr. Ruttenberg a fair shot at getting his permits in order. Now I would imagine that accomodation may be ending.
This lawsuit isn’t going to help fix this relationship one bit, and I imagine the end result will be some additional square footage available for lease in about a year. Instead of a “slow death” as Ruttenberg described it, he’s looking for a quick one and a longshot at a pound of flesh in the process. Litigation as a business strategy hasn’t worked at all with SCO, and I doubt it will save this business either. I anticipate few tears will result.
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