Manassas City Council members will decide today whether a Mexico Lindo restaurant--the subject of hundreds of complaints regarding loud music, drug use and alcohol-related brawls for nearly three years--should be given 30 days to significantly lower its noise level before being stripped of its annual dance permit.

More than 360 complaints have been filed since 1997 against Mexico Lindo Restaurant, at 9920 Crockrell Rd., Chief of Police John J. Skinner said at Monday's City Council meeting. Of the complaints, 41 were for public intoxication, and 11 were for driving under the influence of alcohol.

"This has got to stop," said Susan Gibson, who lives in the neighborhood behind the restaurant. "One morning I walked outside to find a man passed out on my driveway. If I'd backed out with my car, I could have killed him. It's not just a public nuisance; it's a threat to safety."

Restaurant owner Felix Vargas said at the meeting that while he admits it is often loud at his establishment, he never meant for his business to be a public nuisance.

"I hear this stuff and I feel bad about what people are saying," he said. "I don't want to have this kind of thing going on at a place like this."

Vargas has three more months of the 10-year lease, at which time "I'll be out of there," he said, because "the business is just not making any money."

Police records detail 78 complaints of loud music that have been made since the file's inception, as well as 30 counts of narcotics violations and 23 counts of verbal and physical fights at or near the restaurant.

In April, while reviewing the renewal of several annual dance permit contracts, council member J. Steven Randolph (I) expressed concern about the number of calls the Police Department had received about Mexico Lindo. Skinner reported to council members that the restaurant was under new ownership and that new security had been hired, adding that the new owner "indicated his strong desire to be a responsible business and good neighbor."

But during the past five months, after the Police Department underwent various enforcement details--undercover sting operations, undercover narcotics busts, unannounced occupancy checks and unannounced fire code inspections--many more violations were observed and cited, Skinner said.

"The calls reflect a continuing pattern of public nuisance and noise complaints," Skinner said. "The total numbers and types of complaints do not reflect favorably on the restaurant management."

In other business, the council approved a two-year lease recommendation from the Manassas Regional Airport Commission to rent two rooms in the airport terminal to Florida-based Airline Transport Professionals, despite a mounting controversy ignited by a local pilot. Geoff Peterson raised allegations last week that Bruce Lawson, the airport manager, denied him the opportunity to occupy the same space and demanded that Lawson be forced to resign.

Peterson, who was at Monday's meeting, said he still plans to present his business proposal to the airport commission and hopes to have the opportunity to set up shop at the airport's terminal.