Police Getting No Cooperation At City Limit Lounge, Beer Board Told

Thursday, November 7, 2013 - by Gail Perry

The Chattanooga Beer Board on Thursday morning revoked the beer license held by Edwards Daniels and City Limit Lounge at 211 W. 45th St. This was done while another revocation is in the process of being appealed stemming from an incident that happened Aug. 24. At the beer board meeting Sept. 5, the beer license was rescinded for that violation due to the business stocking alcohol without having a liquor license.

The charges heard Thursday stemmed from the attempt to notify Mr. Daniels of another violation that took place on Aug. 30. Bertha Lawrence, beer board secretary, had tried to notify the bar by telephone of a new violation, and Officer John Collins had attempted to deliver it several times unsuccessfully. At 1:45 a.m. on Aug. 30, Officer Collins, accompanied by two other police officers and a supervisor, went to the bar again to deliver the notice. He told the board members that upon arrival he saw a table with six large bottles of liquor and an underage DJ. It is a violation of the beer code to allow underage people inside the premises if the business allows smoking.

Because phone calls had not been answered or returned, Officer Collins asked to see the land line phone that is another requirement of having a beer license. He testified that the female manager told him he did not have permission to go behind the bar and was uncooperative, argumentative and followed him around the whole time screaming “illegal search- illegal search.” She did not allow him to go behind the bar but dialed a number and a phone rang.

When asked for his side of the story, the owner responded, “I don’t have anything to say. We have an ongoing process of a higher court.” Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman asked him for the working phone number, and Daniels answered, “It’s in the phone book.”

Attorney Reisman told the board that this violation should be considered independently from anything that has taken place in the past.  Board member Andre Harriman made the motion to revoke the permit based on the evidence presented. The motion passed unanimously. Looking back while leaving the room, Daniels remarked that he would continue to sell beer until the appeal was decided. Officer Collins said for the record, that, as the door was closing, he received “a one finger salute.”

A discussion about what recourse the beer board has in the face of “flagrant disregard” such as this, the city attorney explained that the appeals process is set up by state law, but when an appeal is heard by the Chancery Court, the judge receives a transcript of the meeting where the license was revoked, and testimony about the attitude can be presented.

The event hall Clean Cut Entertainment was the second violation heard by the board. Mark Jackson testified that he had bought a house and seven surrounding lots at 909 Crutchfield St. and fixed up the house to be used for family gatherings. In that neighborhood, he is known as “Uncle Mark” to many young men that he mentors. He allowed one of these men to rent his building for $150 to use for his birthday party on the night of Oct. 13.

Because of a routine business check  and a flyer that the police had received announcing that party with an entrance fee of $10, officers arrived at the location at 12:55 p.m. and found around 30-40 people. On Sept. 17, a new Chattanooga city ordinance took effect that requires a permit for events at such businesses. Conditions that define an event hall are if the building holds over 50 people, if any fee is charged for entrance, if there is alcohol allowed on the premises and if the location stays open past midnight.

Mr. Jackson told the board that, although he has guidelines concerning use of this business, he had trusted Mr. Dixon who held the party, and admitted he had not followed up on the content of the flyer that had been distributed advertising the event. He also said he was unaware that new laws had been enacted for event halls and that a permit should have been obtained by the promoter of the party.

Mr. Dixon testified that the party was supposed to be for his family. Forestine Haynes asked why he had 100 flyers printed and posted it on Facebook if it was for his family and close friends, to which he replied that he did not know all their contact information. He said that people had brought their own alcohol that night and he had not sold liquor. The $10 charge was to cover the cost of food and drink so people would not be there that were not contributing. He claimed ignorance to the new ordinance requiring a permit.

Officer Collins told the board that people at the party were very cooperative and had left the scene without incident. Although board members commended Mr. Jackson for advising and guiding young men in the neighborhood, the party conformed to the definitions specified as an event hall, and no permit had been obtained. Andre Harriman told Mr. Jackson that “ignorance is not above the law” and added that “flyers” no longer means only on paper. You need “to get a handle on social media and step up,” he said. Vice Chairman of the Beer Board Phillip Sallee recommended a policy of “Trust but verify first.”

A motion to sustain the violation as a lesson to steer Mr. Jackson in the right direction was approved on a vote of 6-2. Mr. Jackson said that in the future his policy is that anyone who rents his facility must obtain a permit before coming to him.

The application for a beer license was denied for The Spot at 2510 E. Main St. and applicant Anthony Brown. Multiple businesses have been in the location, the latest being Beaucoup. In 2004, Mr. Brown opened a bar The G Spot in the same building but it closed two years later without incurring any serious beer code violations. The board showed concern that Mr. Brown would have business connections with the owner of the last bar there, Beaucoup, which experienced many beer code violations and was closed, it was stated.

This area has been the highest call-for-service-area over the past 15 years for the Chattanooga Police Department, said neighborhood representative Gary Ball. He added that the first call for service usually breeds multiple calls. On behalf of the surrounding businesses, he came to the meeting asking that the board realize that cars will be parked everywhere haphazardly at 2 a.m. because there is not enough parking in the building’s own lot for the occupancy level of 135 people. Sufficient parking is required for any new business, but is not for this building because the small lot is grandfathered in.

Sergeant Mark Haskins asked if the board was able to consider the character of the neighborhood when deciding if a permit would be awarded. He said that in the last week a shooting had occurred in the vicinity and in the past two other shootings and one murder had taken place there. A permit was denied for the new business. The next step Mr. Brown was told, would be to appeal to the Chancery Court.

One new consumer permit was granted to Faye’s II at 2301 Milne St. The owner, J.T. McDaniel, told the board that he was aware of problems at that location in the past and so he bought several adjacent lots. He said he lives within eight minutes of the bar and has been trying to upgrade the neighborhood. The board approved his application for a beer license with the understanding no food can be served and that it will close at 11 p.m.

Two carry-out licenses were also approved. The first to receive a permit was the convenience store, Speedway #7115 at 7420 Bonny Oaks Dr. and the other for Tobacco & Beverage Outlet #2 at 4816 Hixson Pike.

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