Sammy Fahney, the president of the church board, attended a Community Board 1 meeting in Astoria on Jan. 17 with other members to urge the board to advise the State Liquor Authority (SLA) not to grant Doha a cabaret license, which is necessary to operate a dance club or strip club.
St. George’s, located at 38-25 31st St. for 20 years, is directly across the street from the nightclub at 38-34 31st St. According to Fahney, the church has been struggling to keep patrons and garbage from Doha from spilling on to church property.
“[We find] Corona [beer] bottles on the steps, blood on the steps they go inside the parking lot,” he said. “If you drive here on Friday or Saturday night or Sunday morning, you feel like you are in another country.”
Fahney said the Coptic Christian church on the border of Long Island City and Astoria serves about 500 people and has several services on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including midnight services. He argues that nightclub patrons use up spots in the church parking lot and that he has come to church in the morning to find the fence around the parking lot broken several times.
He has confronted the owner once about these issues and after finding trash bags filled with beer bottles on church property and while the owner did repair the fence one time, Fahney said church goers cannot deal with the problems that may come with a cabaret license.
“Don’t bother us, don’t disturb us,” he said. “We have kids, youth and families coming. Do inside your building whatever you want but don’t do it in front of the church.”
A few blocks away, the gentlemen’s club ACES New York has been the scene of shootings, and neighbors have repeatedly complained to CB 1 about the noise and traffic there. Fahney is nervous that if the license is approved, similar issues will emerge in the area. There are nine gentlemen’s clubs within the confines of the 114th Precinct.
Owners of Doha were supposed to meet with members of CB 1 to discuss the possible cabaret license this month but according to board member Pauline Janelli, the owners were so late to the meeting that it had to be rescheduled. A letter was sent to the SLA asking them to delay making a decision on the license until the board can speak to the owners.
As of 2015, the owners of the nightclub were William and Monica Ferrerosa. The club used to be called Chango but according to Fahney, owners have changed several times. When QNS called the club, an employee said he was unaware that Doha was looking to get a cabaret license and did not know who the owner was.
The board’s Consumer Affairs Committee has not set a date for its next meeting, but has invited church members to attend it so they can hear from the club owners personally.
After the board makes its recommendation, the SLA has the final say on whether to approve Doha’s application.