Paterson Art Factory faces hurdle to obtain dance hall and entertainment licenses

The controversial Paterson Art Factory faces a major hurdle at City Council as it seeks entertainment and dance hall licenses.

Councilman Michael Jackson delayed approval of the licenses citing past issues with the Art Factory. Earlier in the month, he demanded an explanation from Mayor André Sayegh’s administration about the status of the more than 140 summonses issued to the Art Factory two years ago.

Jackson received an explanation Tuesday evening. Legal director Farrah Irving said the Art Factory paid a fee for two summonses. David Garsia, owner of the Art Factory, paid $600 in penalties for the two tickets, according to court records. She said the rest of the tickets were rejected for “faulty procedure” and “duplication”.

Irving’s remarks upset the inspectors who issued the tickets two years ago. They felt that Irving’s assertion called into question their competence. There was nothing deficient in the tickets that were drafted, they argued. In fact, a judge had confirmed the validity of the tickets last year.

Records show that a negotiated settlement was reached to resolve the issue. Part of the agreement reached in February 2019 required the Art Factory to obtain a certificate of occupancy for itself and its tenants within 60 days, officials said.

Jackson alleged that Art Factory tickets were rejected due to Garsia’s warm relationship with the mayor. He linked the mayor to Garsia citing the mayor’s party held at the Art Factory last summer.

“Paterson is not serious. You can do whatever you want,” Jackson said.

Some of Jackson’s colleagues joined him.

“This establishment has been around for years. Were they doing business without the proper licenses? asked Councilman Shahin Khalique.

Irving indicated that it was.

” How is it possible ? Khalic remarked.

Councilman Luis Velez said he needed more time to review documents Irving provided to council members.

Jackson grew even more suspicious of the administration after business administrator Vaughn McKoy blocked community improvement director David Gilmore from addressing the board about it.

Irving told Jackson he should send a request to the company administrator if he wanted administration officials to speak to the board about it. She explained that Gilmore is a division manager. She was willing to let Economic Development Director Michael Powell address the council on the issue.

Jackson raised security concerns on the site. He pointed out that a person had been killed in a building belonging to the same owner on 1st Street.

Irving said the fire department conducted an inspection this month and found no violations at the Spruce Street Art Factory. She also suggested that Garsia could not be blamed for this death as he had rented the space from another entity.

Jackson pointed out that Garsia had multiple leases at the Art Factory.

Councilor William McKoy said the tickets were resolved in court and could not be used as justification to deny or suspend the licenses.

“We cannot continue to hold these cases against the plaintiff,” McKoy said. “They have met all the requirements we have in place for obtaining licenses.”

McKoy suggested his colleagues approve the licenses because the applicant has met all the requirements set out in local law.

“If we do anything other than that, we give claimants the impression that the rule of law doesn’t really apply and that you can do whatever you are required to do, but we can always, arbitrarily , choose to decline your application,” McKoy said.

Council members postponed licensing approval. Council President Maritza Davila said the licenses would again be put to a vote at a special meeting on January 28.

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