Monday, July 28, 2014

Little Rock Board moves to limit late-night club hours

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 7:02 AM

SHORTER HOURS CONTEMPLATED: A late-night crowd at Midtown Billiards. The 5 a.m. closing has been targeted by Little Rock City Board.
  • SHORTER HOURS CONTEMPLATED: A late-night crowd at Midtown Billiards. The 5 a.m. closing has been targeted by Little Rock City Board.

The usual outburst of weekend violence, as noted in the previous item and a road rage/shooting incident Sunday afternoon in Riverdale that may have had its roots in a Murrary Park get together, seems a good place to mention accumulating evidence that the Little Rock City Board WILL move to limit the hours of a handful of private clubs that currently are allowed by law to operate unit 5 a.m.

Pressure to limit the hours comes from directors who believe they are a headache for police, though the clubs have responded to city calls for greater private security on premises.

But City Director Joan Adock, long a foe of clubs at almost any hour, has been relentless in pressing for a 2 a.m. closing ordinance.

Now, I'm hearing from multiple sources, she may be close to a near total victory. Word is circulating that her 2 a.m. closing ordinance, with a 3 a.m. closing two nights a week, is being drawn up. I'm getting conflicting reports on whether the measure will make a City Board agenda in August. Adcock herself reportedly opposes even a one-hour grace period two days a week.

Even a modified closing ordinance, with an extra hour a couple of nights a week, will be crippling to a handful of late-night club operators.

Thirteen clubs currently have permits to operate until 5 a.m., but only nine are active. The major clubs that would be affected are Midtown Billiards, Electric Cowboy, Club Elevations, Discovery and Triniti. They've formed a trade group to fight a change in the law.  Salut, Paper Moon, Jazzi’s and the Fraternal Order of the Eagles also have active 5 a.m. permits, but Jazzi’s closes at 3 a.m. and the Eagles lodge rarely is open past midnight, according to a recent Democrat-Gazette article.

City Directors Brad Cazort and Gene Fortson recently went on a late-night tour of the clubs and found hundreds of people in them in the hours past what would be new closing time. (Cazort counted 160 people in Midtown at 2:30 a.m. on a recent Sunday.) Owners contend they maintain safe premises and that they accommodate shift workers and people in the entertainment industry with entertainment options.

Police calls to the clubs are frequent. As they are day and night in many neighborhoods and parks in Little Rock without club permits.

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