“Embarrassing” oversight forces council to revisit ordinance - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

“Embarrassing” oversight forces city council to revisit nightclub ordinance


Richmond's City Council wants to take another swing at the two-year-old nightclub ordinance, as fresh evidence shows some are still playing by a different set of rules.

A new building going up behind Steve's Food Mart on Hull Street may be indicative of the issue.

"It's going to be a sports bar or lounge," said Steve Abdalleh.

"A night club?" we inquired.

"Why do say that?" questioned Abdalleh. "Yes. It is going to be entertainment services. Yes."

But the City was under the impression the place was set to be a laundromat.

"I changed my mind. There are a lot of laundromats around," said Abdalleh. "I said I was going to do something different."

The district's councilman says he had no idea about the laundromat turned nightclub.

"It was embarrassing to me to find out that the people in the neighborhood knew more about it than I did," said council member Doug Conner, who is presenting a new ordinance to tackle the problem. "The police department was clueless."

Conner is pushing a new ordinance that would go after those who are now slipping through the cracks. They would have to pay up to $2,000 for a conditional use permit and notify neighbors of their intentions to open a nightclub.

"You certainly weren't trying to get over on the city? " we asked Abdalleh. 

"No. I would never do that. Who can get over on the city man?" he asked. "What are you talking about?"

Councilman Conner says the idea is simple.

"If there is going to be a nightclub in your area, you need to know," said Conner. "And we need to weigh it through the planning commission to make sure that it's appropriate." 

Abdalleh says he could change his mind again and stick with the laundromat. The ordinance goes to the planning commission on January 7.

Conner is an outgoing City Council member. He says he has approached other members of the council, including the drafter of the original ordinance, about taking up the ordinance next year.

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