Myrtle Beach Halting Business and Alcohol Beverage Licenses to Large Bars to Curb Crime Wave
Two years ago, Myrtle Beach halted the development of large entertainment establishments in the downtown area, especially bars that seat over 150 patrons. Now, with pop-up nightclubs becoming a haven for potential criminals and suggestions of redevelopment in the downtown area, the city council has decided to re-address the issue of alcohol beverage licenses and business licenses for such establishments.
Promoting a one-time event requires specific business and alcohol beverage licenses, but police officers worry that the size of the events also draws violent crime to the drinking establishments.
The Myrtle Beach City Council is now considering a ban or ordinance against such promoters to help curb crime, while at the same time, considering redevelopment opportunities, which could allow new night clubs, bars, and restaurants to build and apply for business licenses and alcohol beverage licenses.
The moratorium on business licenses for large bars and night clubs has been in effect since January 2013. Business owners, promoters, and police officers believe that the ban on business licenses has allowed exploitative pop-up promoters to barely apply for a proper alcohol beverage license, and skirt the law in the other ways, leading to an increase in crime. The City Council hopes that removing the moratorium on such development while placing an ordinance on the pop-up promoters will allow legitimate establishments to gain ground.
“It is important because, obviously, as redevelopment is occurring and some new exciting opportunities [come up], I hope that council sees that there could be some very tasteful things done in a very positive way,” Downtown Redevelopment Corp. Chairman Chuck Martino said.
Police Chief Gall noted that many bar managers and club owners feel frustrated by the promoters, because they feel like they must turn over free reign of their establishment to these temporary businesses. “There is very little the manager gets involved in during that time,” said Chief Gall. He added, “the atmosphere gets a little wild, a little out of control.”
City Attorney Tom Ellenberg clarified details of the ordinance on pop-up promoters, stating that the proposal requires “drinking establishment owners to notify all third party promoters that they must have a valid City business license and they must have and comply with an individual safety plan approved by MBPD” and that the event must shut down at 2 AM, in compliance with standard alcohol beverage licensing regulations.
“The issue recently came up and City Council would like to resolve the moratorium,” said City Manager John Pederson, who also serves as the DRC’s treasurer. Many club and bar owners support the ordinance and focus on redevelopment – not just to allow them a stronger say in business licensing, but also to help curb crime.