Condo and apartment dwellers near downtown Omaha’s Club Karma say they are fed up with the noise, fights and drunken behavior of patrons of the dance club.

Club owner Paul Hyde says he has heard their complaints. He said he has hired a new security company to police the club, its parking lot and the surrounding area at closing time.

But members of the Omaha City Council were unconvinced. After neighbors protested the club’s effort to renew its liquor license, the council voted 7-0 Tuesday to require Hyde to apply for a new liquor license — in effect, to start over.

Both sides spoke during an unusual liquor license hearing triggered by neighbors who filed seven written protests, above the minimum of three required to trigger such a hearing.

It was the council’s first such hearing since July 2016. That’s when the council required The Soulful Lounge, 3825 N. 30th St., to apply again for a liquor license.

The owner chose not to do so and closed. Typically, liquor license holders face a public hearing and vote on whether the city recommends that the state extend their liquor licenses.

Many bars and clubs facing the prospect of starting over with an often months-long application process choose to close, rather than risk having their liquor license expire.

Club Karma’s Class C liquor license is set to expire Oct. 31, according to the City Clerk’s Office. Hyde has told The World-Herald that he would consider submitting a new application. He declined to comment after the vote.

Police reports from this year indicate a history of problems at the club near 14th and Farnam Streets.

Among the problems investigated by police: fights involving bar patrons, thefts in the area, underage or intoxicated drinkers being served, disturbances and loud music.

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Omaha police have filed five tavern reports with the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission against the club’s liquor license. They allege unruly crowds, fights and patrons being served after hours.

In written complaints to the city, neighbors Nate Moody and Clare Jennings described thumping bass, strobe lights and arguments that could be heard in nearby residential buildings.

“I can make out the words to songs on occasion with my windows shut,” Moody wrote.

Hyde blamed many of the club’s problems on its former security contractor, whom he did not name. He described the security guards as overly aggressive and said they escalated confrontations.

He denied that his club is serving minors or serving alcohol after business hours, saying the club follows the law and does the best it can.

Hyde said his business, like other dance clubs in town, helps fill a gap in Omaha of places where 20-somethings can go and have a good time.

“I think it’s mostly that neighbors don’t want a dance club next door,” Hyde said. “You have the opposition coming after these places, and they end up getting fined or shut down.”

Neighbors wrote in their complaints that the problem is how the club is run, noting that owners promote different events online than what they said would be held there when the council approved the club’s liquor license in January.

Club Karma’s Facebook page says it invites widely known regional and national DJs to play electronic music and other types of music, including a Saturday night club night.

Hyde told the council in January that acts playing at the club would be local and low-key.

Council members, including President Chris Jerram, Ben Gray, Aimee Melton and Brinker Harding, questioned Hyde’s willingness to follow through with what he says he’ll do.

On Tuesday, he denied seeing letters and emails from the council’s law committee. He repeatedly deflected responsibility, Melton said.

Neighbors described Hyde as dismissive of their concerns, which Hyde denied in an interview with the newspaper.

Two neighbors testified Tuesday that Hyde seemed to ignore their requests to keep patrons from urinating on buildings and to limit the sound coming from the dance club.

Club Karma has a capacity of about 300 people. It has about six security guards on an average night and a security staff of 15 or more on Saturdays, Hyde said.

Its future is now uncertain.

“We are trying to run a safe environment,” Hyde said. “Would they rather have these kids out running around doing mischief?”

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