Council denies club license

Published 6:35 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
A club license application brought forth some serious concerns Monday afternoon during the City of Atmore's council meeting.
Following a question and answer session with an agent from the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC), Mayor Howard Shell and the council unanimously denied the license request applied for by Club Paradise.
"We tabled this at our last regular meeting requesting the presence of the ABC Board that fills these applications and submits them to cities or counties for their approval," Shell said. "When they're in the police jurisdiction, so many cities are having difficulties in trying to provide security."
Enforcement Agent 1 Sunny Bedsole with the ABC Board answered direct questions from Shell during the meeting mainly concerning security if the application was granted.
"You have to look at your police department because they're going to get the first call if there is any disturbance out there," Bedsole said. "How many officers are you going to have working on a Sunday afternoon or Sunday night? Even for that matter on Saturday night turning into Sunday morning. That is some of the issues after talking with some of the officers down here. There may be 400 or 500 people at a club."
Bedsole also provided a copy of the ABC Board rules and regulations for the entire council and a copy of Title 28, which pertains to clubs.
The difference between a club license and a lounge is that club's are allowed to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Lounges are required to close at 2 a.m. Sunday night and are not allowed to re-open until 12:01 a.m. Monday morning.
One of Shell's main concerns was what type of security offered by the ABC Board in the event of an incident at a club, as well as, complaints and noise problems.
"We're going to be notified and if we came down there's only going to be one or two of us and we're going to request either the local police department if it's in the city limits or jurisdiction or if it's out the county, we ask the Sheriff's Department to assist with us," Bedsole said. "I'm covering two counties now, Covington and Escambia, and there are roughly 90 licensees or so in Escambia County that I'm working and around 110 in Andalusia. We have six different counties that are in our district that go as far as Pike County, so we're stretched thin as it is. In January, we're supposed to hire an agent that's specifically for Escambia County, but it will be February before he starts."
Bedsole went on to say that the city and/or county are the first responders during disturbances at clubs within their jurisdiction.
"It's more for your local police department or sheriff's department to have to respond to because I'm an hour or an hour and a half away from here," Bedsole said. "The real security issue is if your police department staffed enough to where they can deal with a situation of that magnitude if a fight or something breaks out."
Shell also read a letter from Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith in reference to a telephone conversation he had with Atmore Director of Public Safety Glenn Carlee regarding Club Paradise.
"As I stated over the telephone, past experience has caused me to have a very negative opinion of club licenses in general," Smith wrote. "As you know, a lounge license allows alcohol to be sold 146 hours out of each week, only restricting sale on Sunday after 2 a.m. After 2 a.m., a larger percentage of the customers left in a lounge are under the influence of alcohol and require law enforcement to schedule additional officers."
Smith's letter went on to point out concerns about Club Paradise being located in a residential area and the negative comments he has received from residents due to noise and traffic problems.
"This office is presently unable to provide the security needed for "club hours" due to manpower and financial limitations," Smith wrote. "For these reasons, I am opposed to Club Paradise receiving a club license and respectfully ask that the City of Atmore deny the request."
Bedsole also explained to the council the different types of violations lounge owners and club owners can be slapped with if they don't obey the laws.
In other business, the council:

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