NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk business owners are concerned about the closing and regulating of businesses in and around downtown Norfolk. Some owners say the fine line between policing and restricting is putting a pinch on their profits.

As we’ve reported, city officials are trying to find a way to stop the ongoing violence. One of those ideas is to require businesses to have a modified conditional use permit.

“In trying to cast a wider net to enforce, I think they’ve begun to include things that they don’t quite understand,” said Charles Rasputin of Slowdive Gallery in Ghent.

Rasputin owns Slowdive and helped create Norfolk’s NEON district. His gallery is also a restaurant that serves alcohol and used to host various forms of live entertainment until recently when he says the city told him the space’s zoning certificate required the gallery to close at midnight and prohibits dancing and live entertainment. The restrictions come as a result of the gun violence problem in and around downtown Norfolk.

“It’s tough. It’s tough knowing you tried to do everything right and yet you still can’t get the right foothold,” Rasputin stated.

Rasputin told 10 On Your Side he was in the middle of the conditional use permit and zoning renewal process last month when he was unexpectedly shut down.

“They said I couldn’t operate under that CUP currently, I was shut down immediately. I complied completely. I still got a visit the next day from fire marshalls that put a violation on my door even though I hadn’t violated any order. They also came back and told me I wasn’t allowed to be in business. I didn’t have this license or that license. I produced all of them, newly renewed, at which they said the next time O.K. you’re good to be in business but then I get a call the next day saying oh we gave you the wrong information,” Rasputin explained.

While Rasputin navigated the process which he says confused even council members, he had to stay closed.

“For a small business, two weeks, three weeks with no income and a small staff, we’re under a dozen people here, it’s a death blow,” Rasputin said.

He’s urging city officials to reconsider forcing Norfolk’s nightlife to stop at midnight and limiting their options for live entertainment. The conditional use permit and zoning ordinance will be a topic of discussion during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“I’m hoping that we get a bigger, longer conversation about this than a notification on a Thursday and a decision on a Tuesday,” Rasputin stated.

Rasputin says he’s signed up to speak at the meeting with other late-night business owners.

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