Monday, June 03, 2002

Patrons fighting to save Tag's

By Jennifer Edwards,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — With officials cracking down on what they say are longstanding violations at an old tavern in Pisgah, many of its patrons are banding together to clean it up with the hope of saving it.

        About 70 volunteers who frequent Tag's Tap Room on U.S. 42 recently straightened the bar's interior and painted its former faded tan exterior white.

        They also painted the owner's name, Earl, in white letters on the front with flames on either side. They see this as a battle to preserve some of this booming township's roots.

        “Tag's is the national watering hole in Butler County,” said customer Bill Smith, 63, who has been a patron of the bar since it was a carryout in the 1950s. “These millionaire politicians want to be uptown and this ain't going to happen. They've pushed far enough.”

        Township officials met with the owner, Earl Leary, and his Mason attorney in court last week in an attempt to force Mr. Leary to fix what they say are property maintenance and structural violations that have existed since December 2000.

        Mr. Leary will be given another month to bring his building to code, specifically paving the parking lot and removing the abandoned cars there. If he does not do so by July 1, township officials will begin condemnation proceedings, said Maryann Santel, the township's senior code enforcement officer.

        The recently painted sign on the front of Tag's with Mr. Leary's name on it also is illegal, she said. Mr. Leary will need to get a sign permit for it to remain, she said Tuesday. “We have given him a year's worth of extensions,” Ms. Santel said. “This could go on forever and we don't want that. We want the property cleaned up.”

        Mr. Leary has said he doesn't have the money to make the necessary renovations and may have to sell the building. A Pisgah businessman has offered to purchase it, but plans to raze the building to create a parking lot, according to Mr. Leary.

        Mr. Leary's attorney has cautioned him that he must sell the building soon to avoid legal action.


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