Parties reach agreement on nightclub ordinance

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Changes are coming to Richmond's nightclubs. After months of contentious debate, it seems the players involved have reached an agreement on most issues surrounding a new city club ordinance. That means clubs throughout the city could soon have new rules to follow. This is a very different picture than a month ago when it seemed there were more complaints than agreements.

It took one murder after another, stepped up police presence and meeting, after meeting, after meeting.

"For there to be a meeting of the minds and for so many people to stand up in support and support the compromise that was able to be reached, this is huge," said Richmond Police Department General Counsel Victoria Benjamin.

That compromise is a nightclub and dance hall ordinance passed by the city council public safety committee Monday night. The paper creates a permitting process for clubs, security requirements, restrictions on who can own this kind of establishment and how the city can revoke a license.

Club and restaurant owners hired lawyers to negotiate with the mayor's administration, police department and city council members.

While all parties stood in support of the measure, there are still a couple minor sticking points. They include variations on the types of crimes and violations that would force denial or revocation of a permit and how far back the criminal background check should go.

"The tweaks are just that; they're kind of 'wanna-bes' but not need to be," explained Benjamin.

In the end there was one generally expressed sentiment.

"We want to say thank you," said Charles Willis, who has been acting as a facilitator for the nightclub owners. "We want to say thank you for a job well done."

This is not a done deal. The full city council is set to discuss an amended version of the ordinance at its meeting next Monday night. Because the body doesn't meet in August, it won't take an official vote until September.

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