Clay County limit on clubs' drink hours upheld

Ordinance will shut down clubs by 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The U.S. District Court in Jacksonville upheld two ordinances that will prohibit certain establishments on Wells Road from selling alcohol after 11 p.m.

The ordinances were challenged by two businesses on Wells Road.

The Clay County Commission decided that stopping alcohol sales at 11 p.m. at the nightclubs located in the area would help diminish crime in the Orange Park area.

Mike Yokan, a lawyer for Club Christopher's and the Crazy Horse Complex, two clubs located on Wells Road, didn't agree with the decision.

"The county should have followed traditional nuisance procedure, instead, there is not a single noise ordinance violation," Yokan said. "The county can't demonstrate that any one of these patrons has ever been cited. They are simply allegations in the record without proof."

Patrons used to think of Wells Road as being a family friendly, but now think the dynamic of the area has changed greatly over the past few years.

"We don't stay out late anymore, because we know the later we stay out, the more drunks there will be on the road," resident Brian Hougland said.

"If they want to stay out late, they are going to find a way to stay out late, but the nice part is that it's not going to be right around here," said Jack Fitzpatrick, who works near Club Christopher's and the Crazy Horse Complex.

Nobody that works at Club Christopher's would comment on the judgment handed down Tuesday. When Channel 4 spoke to the business owners on Wells Road last May, they weren't happy about cutting off alcohol sales early.

"Everybody is really hurt by this because it is going to shut us down," Club Christopher's doorman Sam Faulk said. "Really because after 11, that's when we get a lot of our patrons."

Yokan does remain hopeful that this ruling can be overturned in the future.

"Whether we take it back to him and ask him to look at some factual and legal matters, we believe he has overlooked, or whether it goes to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, this litigation is far from over."

The judgment doesn't just affect lounges already located on Wells Road; it also prevents lounges from opening in the future and requires all of the businesses to cease operation by May 2016.

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