Updated: Tuesday, 21 Apr 2009, 11:09 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 21 Apr 2009, 1:41 PM EDT
NORFOLK, Va. - During a Tuesday afternoon worksession of the Norfolk City Council, city officials announced they will be taking steps to hold the businesses, including the nightclubs, inside Waterside Festival Marketplace more accountable.
The city will be revoking the current "umbrella special exception permit" that covers all the businesses in Waterside with very few regulations. Then, the shops, restaurants and nightclubs in Waterside will be required to apply for a new, more strict special exception permit with the city.
This is an effort by the city to have more control and oversight over the businesses in Waterside after several weeks of increased attention on the safety and security in Downtown Norfolk.
Vice Mayor Anthony Burfoot said, "If they can't play by those rules, then we will move to revoke that special exception."
Norfolk officials say the move would bring the Waterside bars under the same strict rules as other bars in the city, like those along Granby street that have to submit to spot inspections by the Norfolk Bar Task Force.
WAVY.com captured undercover video recently when the task force, which was created by city council, shut down Indra Lounge on Granby for alleged overcrowding and fire and health hazards.
Tuesday during a presentation by Cindy Hall, Deputy City Attorney and head of the task force, Councilman Paul Riddick blasted her.
"The one you took over on Granby street, Indra the other night, it's alleged that you guys are extremely heavy-handed and rude and that's what concerns me. It seem to me you can do your job without being rude, without being heavy-handed," scolded Riddick.
He went on to tell Hall, "I guarantee you people would be afraid to come out and say something about it for fear of retribution."
Hall flatly denied Riddick's allegations.
Hall said, "I understand you getting complaints from the people who are committing the violations. In fact we are hearing the reverse. We are hearing the bar task force is not out there enough to ensure public safety."
Hall said bar and restaurant managers are telling her team they welcome the inspections because they help insure public safety.
Hall also invited Riddick and any other member of council to join the task force on one of their night-time sweeps of nightclubs.
Hall said, "I think your perceptions would change. It's a real eye-opener out there."
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