Cape may temporarily ban clubs operating after hours

Monday, February 16, 2004

Cape Girardeau city officials want to place a six-month moratorium on after-hours clubs while they decide how best to regulate the clubs.

The suggested moratorium comes in the wake of neighborhood complaints surrounding the Taste, an after-hours club that opened last October and shut down shortly after a fatal shooting outside the club on New Year's Day.

The city council will discuss the proposed moratorium at its meeting Tuesday night. Mayor Jay Knudtson said the moratorium, if approved, would expire on Sept. 21.

He said it would give city officials needed time to review how other cities regulate such businesses and draw up a local ordinance.

There are no after-hours clubs operating in Cape Girardeau right now.

The proposed moratorium would include dance clubs and establishments which feature "the playing of music" regardless of whether there is an admission charge.

The proposed ordinance would ban such clubs from operating from 1:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday, effectively keeping them from opening.

There's a need to regulate such businesses because of public safety concerns, police chief Steve Strong and city manager Doug Leslie wrote in a council agenda letter.

Anton Shamon Miller, 25, of Cape Girardeau was shot to death after an argument outside the club. The shooting suspect, Samuel Houston, 22, of Thebes, Ill., faces charges of second-degree murder and armed criminal action.

His 22-year-old brother, Shamir Houston of Cape Girardeau, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon after a handgun was found in his clothing.

Avoiding neighbor fight

Neighbors had objected to the club at 402 Good Hope, saying it attracted drunken, unruly crowds that led to peace disturbance and violence.

Patrick Buck, who had operated the club, told the council on Feb. 2 that he wouldn't reopen it because he didn't want to get into "a long, drawn-out fight" with neighbors.

The city council and neighbors welcomed the closing of the club.

But Buck said there's still a demand for after-hours clubs that serve snacks, nonalcoholic beverages and provide pool tables and other entertainment for customers who want to continue to party after the bars close.

Buck supports a temporary ban, but wants to see city officials develop regulations that ultimately will open the door for such establishments.

"I am hopeful they would come up with an ordinance really quick and it would be something we can live with," he said.

Buck said the public criticism of his after-hours club resulted largely from the fact that it was located near homes in downtown Cape Girardeau.

"It was just in a really bad location," he said.

Buck said one of the difficulties in locating an after-hours club in Cape Girardeau is that commercial properties often border homes.

Buck's club was open on weekends and some holidays from 1:30 to 3:30 a.m.

The Taste drew 150 to 160 customers on busy weekends, he said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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