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Prince George’s County Council Passes Legislation Regulating Dance Clubs

Owners say the legislation could mean last call for some dance halls and clubs.

New regulations for Prince George’s County dance halls and night clubs may help solve crime in some areas, officials say, but owners say the rules could mean some clubs will go out of business.

The county council this week unanimously passed legislation that will, among other things, require club owners to submit security plans for clubs, raise licensing fees from $300 to $1,000 a year, and give the Department of Environmental Resources the right to suspend or revoke applications or licenses. Clubs would also be prohibited from operating between 2 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Karen Toles (D-Dist. 7) of Suitland introduced the legislation after an outcry from residents and police, who said dance halls were a magnet for crime in the community. The legislation could be enforced as early as this summer.

Officials from the county police department and state’s attorney's office praised the legislation as an aid to cutting back on crime in communities where clubs exist. According to Prince George’s County police, since 2007, about 40 murders have occurred near clubs in the county. Communities have complained of crimes, fighting and littering near the clubs.

“With increased security comes increased accountability,” said Prince George's Police Chief Mark Magaw. “We have to look at this issue to make a decision.”

But club owners and promoters said they felt railroaded by the legislation.

“I think the bill needs tweaking,” said Doc Hayes, who owns Club Elite in Temple Hills. “We feel like [the legislation] is a broad brush stroke when you say that our businesses are operating outside the law.”

Hayes said the additional requirements, including licensing fees and penalties, could force some clubs to go out of business. In the past, he said, officials had been more open to discussing legislation with the club and dancehall community. This time, however, he said the industry was shut out.

“I strongly encourage the council to step back and allow the industry to weigh in,” he said.

Ron Motter, a former club promoter, told the council that clubs bring hundreds of jobs to the community and give youth something to do.

“[The] only thing that happens is that [clubs and club-goers] get pushed to another place,” he said.

MAH 1464 August 10, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Byrdie I was born in this County with no spoon in my mouth either, has nothing to do with race, Went to PG county schools from K-12 so most of my classmates were black and some are the best friends I have ever had, so once again people like you have to resort to the race card to try to put one down. Time to grow up, you on the other hand try to say you are a police officer, are you kidding me, the police officers I know all know how to spell properlly. If you are a police officer you sure did not do it by going to college must have bee nsome sort of affirmitive action program, your the type that hangs out with Jack Johnson down at the Tick Tock. On second thought they should keep all of the clubs open, you people are doing a great job of killing each other now. Keep it up it saves room for other criminals in our jail system. I am sure you are proud of the way the people have ben behaving in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and even England, thats right your people, so bring on as you typed "the purple and try to take from me" I would shoot anyone any color that comes in my house or threatens my kids.
Marina1 October 31, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Its about time something was done! most of the dancehall clubs dont bother to i.d and sell drinks to your underage childten!! and worse of all they smoke pot right out in the open in these clubs!!! We dont want them in our community let running all night!!
1blessedmale November 02, 2011 at 01:58 PM
It is alot of racist people on here, WOW
Alphadog November 02, 2011 at 02:46 PM
No, it's not about race,it's about character. Our community does not want businesses that attract a criminal element, and criminal behaviors.
Mac203 November 02, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Fortunately, the council made a decision! Fortunately, the people of Prince Georges County have the option to vote for or against the elected officials responsible for this legislation. A very large portion of the patrons who attend these clubs live in PG and are over 18 years of age. I'm eager to see what will happen next election.

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