Council views revised rave rules following
input from club owners
Police chief opposes plans to allow teens to party into
By LAUREN MARKOE
Responding to club owners' concerns, politicians are tinkering with the
city's proposed rave ordinance.
The ordinance, drawn up by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, aims to
control drug sales and use at nightclubs by restricting clubs' hours of
operation and requiring a permit to operate the club. Police say raves -
all- or late-night dance parties - are magnets for teen-agers who use
Ecstasy and other drugs.
Members of the City Council's Public Safety Committee said they intend
to send an ordinance to control raves to the council, which could vote it
into law. But they asked police Wednesday to make changes first.
One of club owners' objections to the draft is its requirement that clubs
that cater to adults close at 2:30 a.m. Committee Chairman Patrick
Cannon asked the police attorney who wrote the ordinance to draft
alternatives to a few sections. The alternatives would:
Allow nightclubs that cater to those 18 and older to stay open past
Tell club owners exactly how to apply for permits and how much a
permit would cost.
Allow 16- and 17-year-olds in nightclubs that cater to adults - but
require them to leave by an appointed hour sometime before closing.
The draft now divides nightclubs into "adult" and "juvenile" categories.
Those that cater to patrons under 18 - must close at midnight Friday
and Saturday and at 11 p.m. all other days.
"We don't want 14-year-olds partying with 34-year-olds," said Cannon.
Some critics of the ordinance say it's too strict, and 16- and
17-year-olds should be allowed to attend adult clubs for at least some of
Police Chief Darrel Stephens advised against that change. So did
council member Mike Castano, who argued that an adult club is
inappropriate for a 16- or 17-year-old.
"So they like the music. So they like the dancing. I did too at that age,"
he said. But clubs today are far more dangerous than dance halls were
when he was a teen-ager, said Castano, who is 64.
About 15 people, many of whom own clubs or work for club owners,
attended Wednesday's meeting. Alan Jones, a securities trader from
Davidson, also showed up. He worried the ordinance would violate the
Constitution's guarantee of freedom of assembly.
"The police's role is to enforce the laws, not to legislate," he said.