THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER Wednesday, January 31, 2001 Section: METRO Edition: THREE Page: 3B



Charlotte's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday approved a proposed ordinance that would put tighter restrictions on the city's nightclubs but still allow them to operate after 2:30 a.m.

The proposal, aimed at controlling drug use at nightclubs, still must be approved by the full City Council before it becomes law. The council is expected to consider it next month.

The proposal is less strict than the original draft presented by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police months ago. The original would have required all adult clubs to close by 2:30 a.m. and prohibited anyone under 21 years old from entering.

The latest version - a response to concerns from club owners - allows nightclubs to operate after 2:30 a.m. with a permit; the city could revoke the permit if too many drug incidents or other violations occur. It also allows people under 21 inside adult clubs during specified hours.

Councilman Mike Castano, vice chairman of the Public Safety Committee, voted in favor of the revisions but said he is afraid the committee took the teeth out of the proposal.

"I think perhaps we need a better definition of a rave. This is what I thought we were trying to put a stop to," Castano said. "I'm still very concerned about 16- and 17-year-olds being allowed in adult clubs."

The proposed ordinance would allow those ages in adult clubs until 2 a.m. on weekends.

Police brought the proposal to the committee as a way to crack down on raves, all- or late-night dance parties they say are magnets for teen-agers who use Ecstasy and other drugs.

Councilman Patrick Cannon, who heads the Public Safety Committee, said he believes the measure will allow police to control raves.

Penny Craver, owner of Tremont Music Hall, said she is pleased with the compromise although she still has some questions.

"I'm glad to see they are giving these 16- and 17-year-olds somewhere to go," she said. "I think it is very important to get young people involved in something, whether it's music or something else. When they don't have anything to do, that's when they are ... getting into trouble."

Reach Melissa Manware at (704) 358-5041 or

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