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Zoning board denies plan for club catering to under-21 crowd

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The music has stopped for a proposed under-21 club at Madison Avenue and Southport Road after a city board on Tuesday unanimously denied a controversial rezoning request.

A company called Next Millennium Club LLC, led by Josh Skaggs, had hoped to open a 7,500-square-foot club in a vacancy-prone strip center at 6830 Madison Ave.

But the club faced fierce opposition from community groups, police and neighbors, who feared the large groups of teens the club would attract could grow unruly.

"If it's approved, I guarantee we'll be busy," said Homecroft Police Chief William Murray, at a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. "It'll be a long hot summer."

Janet Mallett, an attorney representing the owner, countered that the club would bring a productive use to long-vacant retail space, generating new taxes and creating jobs. She said Skaggs would be a responsible neighbor, noting he had already gotten approval to hire off-duty IMPD officers to keep the venue safe. He also vowed to hire private security personnel, and promised to pay for new landscaping to bring the run-down property up to code.

Mallett said the number of club-goers would fall far short of the maximum capacity of 720. The facility would be open mainly on Fridays and Saturdays, and some Thursdays during the summer.

Barbara Kyle Jones, president of the Homecroft Town Council, said the neighborhood is looking for "proper, family-oriented" businesses, not an after-hours gathering place for teens. Putting an under-21 club in the center, which has a Dollar General, Papa John's and an auto repair shop, would have required a rezoning. The zoning board voted 5-0 against the move.

Jones said she was concerned in particular by a sign, already up on the proposed club's door, that warns that no guns, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes are allowed.

"This very clearly denotes there will be problems for this location," she said.

IMPD Detective William Carter agreed. His primary concern is where teens go after they leave such clubs: They typically congregate in nearby parking lots or at gas stations. The crowds are large and can be hard to control. Fights can break out, and in the past they have led to shootings, Carter said.

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  • Logic Fail
    The arguments against this continue to amaze me. "Remember the troubles...USA Skates..." and "we had a shooting at an under 21 club..." If the same logic was applied to 21+ establishments, we would never issue another permit. There are THOUSANDS of fights and dozens, if not hundreds, of shootings (not deaths) each year around Indy. The difference is that the decision makers are impacted by the 21+ decisions (not by this case), and there would be ridiculous voter backlash if the same standards were applied to 21+ establishments.
  • Clubs, bats, whatever...
    The locale is such that any teens wanting to go will, of necessity, be driving. Mass Transit? Lessee - NYC has mass transit; Washington, DC - murder capitol of the world - has mass transit; Chicago has mass transit... how again is this supposed to help? the USA Skates situations aren't very similar; for one, the neighborhoods aren't the same in any way you want to measure them.

    The drinking age at 21 issue - come on; if it were a REAL issue, it'd have been dealt with by now - the vote was extended to 18 YOs a long time ago.

    No, the real issue is what these kids learn at home long before they get to 18 - or 16, or even 12. In the immediate neighborhood of this locale, we have -
    1 gas station; a Speedway.
    1 drug store - a Walgreen's
    1 bank
    1 miniature golf course - if it's even still open
    1 Dairy Queen - closes at 10 PM, lats time I saw.
    1 Long's bakery - they close even earlier.
    a couple of car repair shops; again, closed long before the club would even open.
    Oh, and Joyce - the club has said they'd be using off-duty IMPD for security... I'm minded of Picadilly's, though. This place would be a lot smaller, IIRC just where they'd be fitting it into the strip mall. This place has been on the ropes ever since the tornado took out the Marsh grocery store, though, so SOMETHING needs to be done with it.
  • Souder must have thought this one up too
    If we can afford thousands of police officiers at the Indy 500, Colts Games, Pacer Games, etc. etc, etc. I would think the police could do their job and patrol a parking lot. Maybe not? I remember when Lugar was mayor he tried to put into place programs for under 21 could go so as to keep out of trouble. No wonder kids go out and drink, they are told, you can't, but of course drinking is the only place sanctioned by society. Any teen activity is forbidden and before long we will have even a greater problem. Typical thoughtless, mindless, holier than thou politicians and community leaders. I guess they will appear on Souder's next show for Teen Guidance
  • Those signs are indicators yea
    I think that same sign is in the Federal and State office buildings. Perhaps they need to be closed down as it is an indication of what problems could be had.
  • Under 21 Club
    We had a shooting at an under 21 Club not long ago in Beech Grove. Gangs would take over the place and peddle drugs in the parking lot. Why give them the chance?
  • Read the article
    This proposed re-zoning is not being rejected by Indianapolis. It's Homecroft who
    doesn't want the teens in their area. I can't really blame them either cause most likely it won't be Homecroft teens but will be the thug wanna-be teens from Indy and surrounding areas who will frequent the place and bring the problems with them.
  • USA Skates
    Remember the troubles that came from having a bunch of teenagers together on a Saturday night at either of the USA Skates? Fights, shootings, muggings, drugs, teens braking into cars and homes walking home, stealing vehicles to get there, loitering after hours at gas stations, vandalism...it goes on and on. teens are more likely to find trouble when they're in a group and ones ego gets disrespected. The police had their hands full thanks to out of control teens when USA Skates let out. Sorry, teens today just don't know how to treat each other and other peoples property.
  • Ridiculous
    Let's see... this proposal creates jobs and provides a legitimate venue for teenagers to attend where they won't be drinking, doing drugs, fighting, having sex, or any of the 7 deadly sins. I remember hating the lack of places to go when I was a teenager growing up around Indy.
    The arguments against it are super-weak. "It will be a long hot summer"?? REALLY? Time will slow down and temperatures will rise because teenagers have someplace to go? I'm being facetious, of course, but it's no worse than comments that a sign forbidding something indicates there will be a problem. The same type of individual would also likely criticize that the owners weren't responsible if they didn't have such a sign, which indicates their double standard.
    This is a tragic loss for taxpayers, the unemployed, teenagers, and basically everyone except the cops who probably would have to stop a few fights (but at least they'll know where to be... it's not like the fights won't occur). Oh wait, they win too because they'll be hired at a higher rate for private security...fail.
    • Double Standard.
      How can you hope to reverse the brain drain when the student population in town (18 - 21) isn't allowed to patronize any type of nightlife because of these blatantly religious zealots who think there on some righteous crusade. You only live once, and while Indianapolis has made massive leaps and bounds in the field of entertainment, there's a big gap of musical talent one is allowed to patronize in those oh so important years of self discovery all because of laws ensconced in 1950's era ideals. I don't know if its encouraging that our local police are intimidated by a proactive group of young people trying to establish an outlet for themselves. That Certainly doesn't make me feel confident in their ability to handle legitimate criminals. Granted I don't know what type of music this place is going for, but if it's anything along the lines of the Mousetrap, or Booney's I'd be there in a heartbeat. I realize that in a year I'll be 21 finally, but the damage has been done, Ive missed so many acts that have come through Broad Ripple and downtown for the first time in the last couple of years simply because society has deemed me unfit to be in the presence of social experimentation and ... dare i say it, Drugs .... bumbumbumm, when in reality i simply want to patronize the local music, friends, and family that have established themselves in the local music community. It shouldnt be illegal to want to embrace the art and music movements of your local culture, That release is all part of being human. Come Down off your crusade Indianapolis and let the young people have some fun. It's so infringing, there are entire blocks in Broad Ripple where i can't even eat at certain restaurants because that "wall" isn't standing between the bar and the dining area. Do we really think a wall is going to stop kids from drinking, If anything the veil of secrecy and attempted unattainability factor the state has attempted at evoking only further glorifies alcohol to the point it becomes a game, or a right of passage for teenagers to steel, and down their first bottles of booze rather than learning how to drink with their parents or friends in a dining, or private setting.

      And my last two cents: Drunk Driving wouldn't be a problem if this city could finally embrace mass transit.
      Come on Naptown, I know you're have more foresight than this. At least you're letting the microbrews sell on sundays... thats progress. I will give you that
      • Not Sure If It Was Good Ruling
        Here was an opportunity to fill a space in a nearly vacant strip mall with a taxpaying business which would have given the under-21 crowd an opportunity to enjoy entertainment in a controlled and alcohol-free environment. I am not sure the arguments against it held that much water, so long as the club was required to provide adequate security. So, what will happen now? Will the little darlings stay at home instead? No, they will slink about at night getting into trouble, and it will be hard to do anything about it as they will be spread out across town in small groups. The city rarely denies those over 21-years old the opportunity to patronize a club where they consume massive amounts of alcohol and then frequently get into fights, commit sexual harassment (and worse), or engage in drunk driving. It just seems a bit odd to me that the city wouldn't want to give young adults more supervised alcohol-free entertainment options.

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