Published On: Thu, Nov 13th, 2014

Plans to Extend Alcohol Serving Hours Shut Down

By Kathryn Wohlpart

An original draft of an ordinance would have allowed Jazziz Nightlife to extend alcohol sales until 4 a.m. A new draft established to open the pilot program up to other local “entertainment venues” failed to pass in a council meeting on Monday, Nov. 10.

An establishment was required to be within Community Redevelopment Area boundaries, hold a license, have live music and a stage, and be at least 275 feet away from the closest residential area. The ordinance would create a six month program to extend hour operations on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

“This has tremendous amount of unintended consequences. This could have a deleterious affect on our downtown,” said Deputy Mayor Constance J. Scott who said she was in favor of the original draft that limited the pilot to one location.

According to the draft, “the City has the absolute discretion and authority to terminate, modify or revoke the pilot program established by this ordinance at any time and for any or no reason.” One such reason for terminating the ordinance states that three or more verified police incidents with in sixty days would call for an immediate shutdown of the pilot program.

“Again, this is a pilot so I have no problem closing this thing down, either if there are three incidents or if we find that it’s just not doing what this council is envisioning,” said council member Robert Weinroth. “And I’m hearing from the assistant city manager saying that our public safety concerns are being addressed, at least as far as can be under the circumstances with the additional funding that is going to the police department.”

Establishments would be required to hire an extra-duty City of Boca Raton police officer to secure the outside area from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. if the establishment can hold more than 300 occupants.

“Our intent has been and is still to bring a world-class, bonafide entertainment establishment to downtown Boca. This is nothing new to other cosmopolitan cities…It’s a late night business, that’s why we’re called Jazziz Nightlife, because we bring in jazz and we do it at night,” said Michael Fagien, the representative from Jazziz.

Citizen comments during the city council meeting reflected a desire to keep the alcohol hours from changing.

“We don’t need a 4 a.m. closing and the associated problems that come with it. If we look north to our neighbor in Delray Beach, a very vibrant downtown, 2 a.m. closing,” said George O’Rourke, a Boca Raton citizen.

After learning that the ordinance would open up the extended hours to 17 establishments, the city council decided not to pass the ordinance.

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