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North Texas City Manager Addresses Harassment Claims

COLLIN COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) - A huge danger -- that's what the McKinney City Manager called one of the city's most popular nightspots.

In an exclusive interview with CBS 11 News, the city manager explained for the first time why Hank's Texas Grill is the target for possible shut down.

It's a scene few will forget from 2003. That's when a quick moving fire engulfed a Rhode Island nightclub. When the smoke cleared 100 people were dead.

It's a scene McKinney City manager Jason Gray fears could happen at one of the city's most popular honkytonks.

"This exact scenario has been in place and a fire has broken out and people have died because of it," he said.

City officials claim that Hank's is a fire hazard for the 300-plus people who attend weekend concerts there.

While Gray says, "It's a huge danger," Hank's owner Ron Reynolds denies the accusation.

"I expected their response and we'll be ready to give our side in court next week," he said.

After Reynolds received 80 fire and safety code violations in August, he sought a temporary restraining order to keep police fire and city officials off his property. A judge granted the harassment order.

As proof of his claim, Reynolds recorded videos of officers frequently hanging around the restaurant and allegedly scaring away customers.

City manager Gray said he had never heard about any harassment problems until after code violations were issued.

"They've been unwilling to file any complaints," he claimed.

City officials say they only want to make sure the public is safe and that would require a sprinkler system to be installed at the restaurant.

Reynolds told CBS 11 News that he's trying to comply with city requirements and has spent the last few days covering every animal head and decoration in his restaurant with fire retardant -- even his giant Texas state flag.

His efforts still may not be enough to stop the city from asking a judge to shut down the restaurant. The two sides are scheduled to appear in court next week.

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