CLUB OWNERS,PATRONS SPEAK AGAINST RULES
HEARING ALSO DRAWS PROPOSAL BACKERS
By ROBERT F. MOORE, Staff Writer
A well-organized contingent of business owners, club patrons and students
took turns at a city
council forum Monday evening to voice their opposition to a proposed dance hall ordinance.
It was the first public hearing on the measure, which is expected to come to a vote next month.
City officials drafted the ordinance to curb the hundreds of drug-related
crimes and overdoses that police
and paramedics have documented at several Charlotte clubs and raves, which are all-night parties at
Jeff Jennings, director of operations for Mythos and Cosmos, both uptown
dance clubs, said businesses
are being blamed by the police for the actions of a few irresponsible patrons.
"Nightclubs don't do drugs, people do," said Jennings, one of about
30 people to speak on the measure.
"We have no control over what people put in their bodies."
The ordinance would require privately owned venues that play music,
charge money for admission and
have space for dancing to register as either adult or juvenile dance halls. The initial draft would have
required 18-and-older clubs to close at 2:30 a.m. and 17-and-younger clubs to close at 11 p.m. during
the week and at midnight on weekends.
A recent compromise removed the time limits for 18-and-older clubs by
allowing the businesses to
operate after 2:30 a.m. if owners purchase a one-year permit from police. Club owners say the permit is
an extra layer of regulation.
Mark Newbold, a deputy city attorney, said police began exploring the
proposed ordinance based on
information gathered by Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers.
"The objective facts were quite clear," Newbold said.
Mike Jones of Granite Quarry in Rowan County was one of few to speak
in favor of the proposed
ordinance. His son, Tommy Jones, frequented the Charlotte club scene while a student at UNC
Charlotte. He was found dead of a heroin overdose in the parking lot of a Charlotte gas station in 1997.
He was 19.
"Some, like my son Tommy, develop lifelong drug addictions," the elder
Jones said. "All-night dance
clubs and substance abuse are intertwined."
About a dozen students from Northwest School of the Arts, many of whom
attend all-age live music
shows at Tremont Music Hall and similar venues, also attended the meeting.
Some held signs and small American flags.
They, along with several business owners, opposed a portion of the ordinance
that would require venues
to register as adult or juvenile dance halls, because, they say, it likely would prevent all-age shows.
Kristal Bianco, 16, said the ordinance would not prevent raves.
"Raves are going to happen and with this ordinance, they're just going to go underground."
Reach Robert F. Moore at (704) 358-5934 or email@example.com.