The people of Huntsville's District five turned out in large numbers to a Town Hall meeting Tuesday night held at the Central Assembly of God Church. Councilman Will Culver held the meeting to hear his constituents' thoughts about a strip club opening on University Drive. The club, Volcano 256, will be located across the road from University Place Elementary School and several residential areas.
"My job then is to take it to the people, let them know what's happening, and we will come to consensus this evening as to whether or not we want it in our district," explained Culver.
The City of Huntsville awarded owner Daryl Williams a certificate of occupancy to open the club. But the city's Liquor License Review Committee denied him a liquor license despite the fact that establishments of a similar nature have been in the area for years. The Silver Dollar, a gentleman's club, closed only two years ago.
Williams is appealing the committee's decision to the City Council. The Council will make the final decision at their meeting on December 6th.
About 100 people came to the meeting to give their opinion about the issue but did not get a chance to speak. Facts were given by Sergeant Mark Roberts, who also sits on the licensing committee, in regards to the dramatic drop in crime since the previous club closed.
"We are concerned that there may be more crime because of the statistics the Huntsville Police department has," said Patty Carson, a district five resident. "They were able to show that when a similar club in that location was in operation the crime was increased, but when it closed down in 2010 it dropped significantly."
Then Williams' attorney spoke on his clients behalf stating that the club's proximity to a school was a non-issue since the property was 1,000 feet away.
After the presentations and without comments from the public, a vote was taken. Twenty two people voted in favor of the club while 55 voted against it. Culver then ended the meeting.
That's when the real discussion began. Everyone spilled out into the foyer to talk to Culver, and each other, about the issue.
"The Huntsville police department has worked very hard to decrease crime and keep our neighborhoods clean and safe and we just want to support that and we want to keep it that way," said Carson, who came with a petition signed by hundreds of people who live in the area that do not want the club opened.
But Williams' attorney says his client has already invested a lot of money into renovating the building.
"The city has allowed this businessman to come into the city and obtain the proper permits and to go through spending an enormous amount of money and then at the last minute deny him a liquor license. I think its wrong," said Wiley Day.
Because of the way his constituents voted, Culver says he will not support awarding the liquor license to Williams. Carson says although she did not get to speak, she has hope that Culver will follow through and vote the way his constituents did. That vote will be at Huntsville's next council meeting on December 6th.