The Club steps back 

The Club at Firestone has decided to withdraw its lawsuit challenging the city ordinance that effectively killed downtown's late-night dance scene.;;The action comes after city ;officials promised to reconsider the ordinance that requires all downtown clubs to close at 3 a.m. ("The Club strikes back," Jan. 8). As a result, "the Club at Firestone has decided to refrain from pursuing the lawsuit until the outcome of the reconsideration vote," attorney David Wasserman wrote in a letter to Orlando Weekly.;;"At this time, I think it's prudent to take a step back legally and not waste any of our money or taxpayers' money on the lawsuit," said Club owner Jon Marsa. "We want to see what the city means about revisiting the issue.";;At the same time, the nightspot delayed its request for city permission to stay open late next June. The request stems from The Club's desire to compete with late-night events scheduled at Walt Disney World in conjunction with the annual Gay Day festivities.;;Marsa had been scheduled to make that request at the Orlanco City Council's Jan. 12 meeting. But he canceled his appearance after commissioners said they would not grant the request while The Club was suing the city for financial compensation. Now, he will try again on Jan. 26.;;On Dec. 31, The Club filed a lawsuit charging that the local ordinance conflicts with an "anti-rave" state law also passed in 1997. In forcing clubs to close, the suit argues, the city compromises the rights of the late-night crowd to express themselves, as well as the clubs' constitutional right to support that expression. As is standard in such lawsuits, The Club sought "supplementary relief." But Marsa said there was no claim for actual monetary damages.;;Marsa continues to work with other club owners to form a coalition targeting council members whose votes helped impose the earlier closing time. Among those who backed the shutdown was Bill Bagley, who previously opposed the ordinance and said he voted with the 5-2 majority only so that he could later recall the issue for reconsideration. Anti-rave council member Nap Ford is retiring; another, Don Ammerman, is up for re-election. In particular, club owners urge voter registration to help elect officeholders who favor their cause, especially in Ford's district, where four candidates are vying to replace him. The election is March 10.;;The ordinance killing the late-night scene came in the aftermath of the state law that was adopted in response to complaints about heavy drug use at the late-night dance parties. The state law lets cities impose their own closing times while exempting clubs in attraction areas, such as Disney World.;;The Orlando City Council adopted its own 3 a.m. closing for clubs on Sept. 8.

More by Lawrence Budd


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