Columbia, Richland County pull permits for nightspots - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia, Richland County pull permits for nightspots

(Source: WISTV) (Source: WISTV)
RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) -

Columbia Police have revoked the business license for a Vista nightclub linked to the Saturday morning gun battle that left eight people wounded and four suspects in custody.

Chief Skip Holbrook’s decision to lock the Empire Supper Club and take away its license follows gunfire that may have been a result of an argument over lyrics involving a rap artist who performed at the club and police say, fired some of the gunshots.

28-year-old John Earl Bates Jr., who records under the name “Hun Dunn” is facing seven counts of attempted murder and other charges connected to the melee.

The attorney for the nightclub’s owner has not indicated whether he will file an appeal of Holbrook’s action with the city manager’s office.

Meanwhile, Richland County Council members have moved to yank the business licenses for two nightspots that have also drawn scrutiny from members of the surrounding community and in one case, county zoning officials.

Documents obtained by WIS showed council members meeting in executive session September 12th voted to uphold denials of business licenses for the Black Pearl on Broad River Road and Thee Whiskey Tavern on Zimalcrest Drive near the Bush River Road Walmart store.

The Black Pearl drew attention in May after a video surfaced showing semi-nude dancers inside the business, which received its license as a bar and grill. Council chair Joyce Dickerson says the Black Pearl’s owner was not honest in describing the type of business he would run.

The council also targeted Thee Whiskey Tavern in connection with a potential zoning issue. Attorney Kathleen McDaniel represents the business which she says, opened in 2009 as a strip bar. The club is located in a lower corner of a Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham hotel.

McDaniel says the application for the club’s business license identified it as a sexually oriented business. She says the county now contends the club violates an ordinance which requires such businesses to located more than 1,000 feet from a residence. The hotel is in Richland County near the county’s border and McDaniel says the only home within that buffer zone is located across the line in Lexington County.

“Richland County does not have the authority to regulate outside of its county lines,” McDaniel says.

McDaniel and Black Pearl attorney Marcus Whitlark say the businesses are complying with the law and are not threats to public safety.

Black Pearl owner Scott McMillan says he has spent $600,000 renovating what was a vacant building and helping to revive a blighted area of Broad River Road. He says his business has been unfairly singled out by county officials.

Whitlark says the Black Pearl has made operational changes and fired employees since members of the surrounding community began lodging complaints. He also says the business does not allow nudity or drugs. He says McMillan is just “pursuing the American Dream.”

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