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Board shoots down nightclub on 301

Slugline Publication Date Section(s) Page Byline Board-shoots-down-nightclub-on-301-Wilson Daily Times October 22, 2008 Local News

A Wilson city board rejected plans Tuesday for a new nightclub after hearing complaints that it would hurt efforts to improve the U.S. 301 corridor. But the proposed business' owner may appeal the decision to Wilson County Superior Court. Six people, including a Wilson police officer, told the Wilson Board of Adjustment that they oppose Brent Ivey's nightclub plan. After a 40-minute hearing, the board voted 4-1 to deny him the permit. The board gave a permit to Antonio and Lesley Barnes for an indoor inflatable play center at 711 Ward Blvd., about a block north of Downing Street. The center, which is locating inside an existing commercial building, will be designed for children ages 4-12. Brent Ivey had sought a special-use permit for 1903 U.S. 301 S., near the former Nichol's building. He wants to convert the former Hardee's restaurant into a private nightclub that would be open Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. It would be restricted to about 80 customers. Ivey said he has owned and run a nightclub in Rocky Mount, Club Fusion, without problems. But others felt the club would hurt the area. Jerry Dorsey recently rented space across the highway for an auto body shop. "Had I known that there could be a private club there, I probably would not have moved there," Dorsey said. A club would hurt property values in the area, creating traffic, noise and trash, he said. Janet Underwood, a member of the U.S. 301 Advisory Committee, noted that the city has spent a lot of time and money to improve the highway corridor. "We're looking for businesses like grocery stores, banks, restaurants and other service industries," she said. "I think this (club) will increase crime, and not just in that area."

Pastor Bobby Cox of New Life Tabernacle Center said his church has owned adjacent property for several years. It plans to begin construction next year on a church, day care and youth center. "We are trying to get kids off the street," Cox said. Capt. Scott Biddle of the Wilson Police Department cited Ivey's criminal record -- around 30 charges between 1989-2001 -- as another concern. Ivey, 34, called his record the product of youthful mistakes. "I have done a lot of stupid things, but it's been several years," he said, adding he had no trouble getting approval for an ABC license at his previous club. "I am a hard worker, I work hard every day," he said. Nightclubs are a family business, he added. His grandparents operate one in Nashville and a brother-in-law has one in Rocky Mount, neither of which is a nuisance, he said. But the board thought there were too many questions to issue the permit. Board Chairman Alan Winstead was the only member to vote for the request. Ivey can appeal the decision to Wilson County Superior Court, and he got the information on how to do so from city staff. | 265-7878