Mayor Andy Berke, at a press conference in front of a problem-plagued Main Street "event hall," said Wednesday he will submit to the City Council proposed legislation "that will hold accountable the event hall owners and operators and will make event halls as safe as any other late-night establishment."
He said, “For the first time, we are holding property owners responsible, tightening the regulation on events, and imposing clear consequences for those who break the rules.
The proposed legislation will be presented to City Council next Tuesday.
Mayor Berke said, "Currently, event halls are effectively unregulated, and several have a record of violent activity."
He was joined by Councilman Moses Freeman, who chairs the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, as well as Police Chief Dodd and Public Safety Coordinator Paul Smith.
“We know that event halls, like the one behind me, operate without regulations,” said Mayor Berke, as he stood in front of 2510 Main St. at the location of the event hall commonly known as Boo Coo’s.
“We know they are repeatedly the location of violence and we must do everything we can to make them safe for the neighborhood and city as a whole.”
“Previously these venues have operated without any consequences. This legislation holds owners accountable to the standards we expect from everyone else,” said Mayor Berke.
He noted that on Aug. 6, City Council’s Public Safety Committee held a public hearing regarding safety at event halls. Many citizens expressed their concern for regulation of these businesses, he said.
“I would like to thank the administration for working diligently to address this public safety issue,” said Councilman Freeman. “As chair of the Public Safety Committee, it was extremely important to open up the dialogue on this issue and I think we can all agree that it was valuable to hear from our citizens. They all had the same priority, to help them make their streets safer.”
“Safety at event halls has been an issue for years,” said Police Chief Dodd. “The mayor’s plan gives my officers the tools they need to do the job. As soon as this plan is approved by council, we will be able enforce this ordinance and hold accountable those individuals who are in violation of it.”
Event Hall Overview:
State laws regulate businesses that sell liquor, and city ordinances and the Beer Board regulate businesses that sell beer.
Regulations applicable to businesses that allow alcohol on premises but do not sell alcohol have had a history of being unclear and ill-defined.
The lack of regulation has given event hall operators and owners plausible deniability when events become unsafe or disturb neighbors.
Mayor Berke’s plan will repurpose an existing ordinance, section 25-46,et seq., governing “Special Gathering Permits”. This ordinance had not been applied to event halls in the past. The proposed changes state that any person or entity who is the owner or operator of an event hall or who organizes an event is responsible for obtaining a Special Gathering Permit if the event:
• Continues past midnight,
• Charges a fee of any kind,
• Has alcohol present on the premises, and
• Is attended by 50 or more people or is held at a facility with an occupancy capacity of 50 or more.
The new legislation also imposes upon event halls comprehensive obligations concerning safety and noise, like any other late night venue. Event halls must now:
· Close at 3:00 a.m.,
· Report all fights and disturbances to the Chattanooga Police Department, and
· Submit a detailed security plan prior to obtaining a permit.
The permit itself may be obtained by an organizer, owner, or operator, but the ultimate responsibility is tied to the facility and not any one entity.
Owners and operators of event halls, as well as the individual event organizers, are jointly responsible for violations at an event.
Once there are two violations of the ordinance at a particular event hall within a one-year period, the site is no longer eligible for a Special Gathering Permit.
Violations include but are not limited to operating past 3:00 a.m., the occurrence of violence and disorderly behavior, or alcohol being consumed by minors on the premises.
Event hall at 2510 E. Main St.
- Photo2 by Wes Schultz