Greenville County Council is taking a look at the impact of a controversial ordinance.
The “bar ordinance” in Greenville County went into effect on March 1st. Now, bars and clubs in the county have to shut their doors at 2 A.M. in line with the city of Greenville.
According to data 7News obtained from the County, from April to June of 2017, there were 45 calls for service between 2 A.M. and 6 A.M. at around 20 late night clubs. During the same dates from Midnight to 2 A.M., there were 32 calls for service. However, once the ordinance passed, from April to June of 2018, the calls for service between Midnight and 2 A.M. dropped to 23 and between 2 A.M. and 6 A.M. dropped to 10. Seven of those calls were during the time period between 2 A.M. and 2:30 A.M.
“Most of those [seven] are the owners asking to help clear the parking lot,” Greenville County Councilman Lynn Ballard said.
Club owners say the rush of everyone leaving at the same time has created its own safety issue.
“When you have about 200, 300 people all pouring out into a parking lot intoxicated, you have a big security issue,” club owner, Vyron Johnson said.
However, deputies say that number doesn’t compare to how often deputies were tied up on calls to late night spots.
“We would often times have to allocate a whole “south end” of deputies, and that might encompass 12 to 13 units, meaning other calls, other situations are going out there that we’re just not able to provide service to because they’re at the clubs, and now we’re no longer seeing that,” Sgt. Ryan Flood with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said.
A big concern before the ordinance was passed was that more illegal liquor houses would be created. However, Flood says that hasn’t been the case. He also added that deputies are working on addressing the liquor houses that existed before the club ordinance took effect.
The County also gathered data from March through June from Highway Patrol and the Coroner’s Office. The data shows from 2012 to 2017 during that time frame the County averaged 197 DUI collisions with 24 percent of those crashes happening between 2 and 6 A.M. However, during March to June in that time frame in 2018, the percentage dropped to around 12.
“It has certainly helped us and helped the community in general,” Flood said.
However, club owners think help is relative.
“The impact is a lot of people losing their business which is not good,” Johnson said. “You’re taking from people’s livelihoods.”
Johnson says many club owners have had to close on certain days and lay off some of their staff. He says now they’re working on forming an association for restaurant and bar owners.