SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Shane Pruitt’s love for music dates back decades.
“Professionally 27 years,” Pruitt said. “It chose me.”
It’s a profession he says is being threatened by a proposed ordinance aimed at reigning in nuisance nightclubs.
“I was blown away to be honest with you,” Pruitt said.
During a Spartanburg County Council meeting in March, Sheriff’s Office Investigator Mark Gaddy used recent violence at Club 295 as an example for why the new rules are necessary.
“Many of the live performers at these clubs are validated local gang members or associates of these local gangs,” Gaddy said at the time.
He said data from 10 night clubs and bars showed 333 calls for service in 2016, 309 calls in 2017, and 373 calls in 2018.
“These calls for service cover everything from disturbances to homicides with multiple shootings included,” he said.
Mick Minchow’s Ground Zero Music Club in Spartanburg County falls into the ordinance’s definition of a nightclub.
“Never had a shooting. I’ve had a few arguments and fist fights but we’ve gone two and three year periods without having to call 9-1-1,” Minchow said.
The ordinance says nightclubs and promoters would need annual permits from the sheriff’s office, which can be suspended or revoked if requirements aren’t followed.
For instance, hand wand metal detectors must be used on everyone by bonded and SLED certified security guards.
For live performances with more than 100 people, a separate permit is required at least 15 days ahead of time.
“If you have 20 to 25 artists come through each week and if every member of the band has to be checked out and then you can’t make any changes 15 days before the event, I’m out of business,” Minchow said.
The ordinance would regulate nightclub security, alcohol policies, littering, noise, overcrowding, and traffic.
Minchow and Pruitt say they recognize safety is important.
“If you don’t have a safe place people don’t come out, period, ” said Minchow. “That’s the number one priority.”
They said this ordinance goes too far, with Pruitt calling it an example of ‘big government.’
“This is the last place on earth I thought this would be happening,” Pruitt said. “The last ten years that I know of, Spartanburg has really tried to promote the arts and culture and this is going to completely demolish any kind of momentum we’ve tried to get.”
He says musicians are planning to be a monday’s council meeting to let their concerns be heard.
The item is on the agenda but council isn’t being asked to vote on it.
During the first presentation of the ordinance, council members expressed concern over the broadness of the ordinance.
Read more here: Nightclub regulation ordinance proposed in Spartanburg Co.