Nightclubs must provide parking

Buckhead's representatives on Atlanta City Council believe they've found a way to limit the proliferation of nightclubs around the city — and they've been so stealthy about their plan that it's already law.

At its Nov. 15 meeting, the council approved an unheralded ordinance by Council members Howard Shook and Clair Muller that will require new and existing nightclubs to provide proof that they have at least one dedicated parking space for every 75 square feet of floor space in order to renew their liquor license.

Although the measure won't take effect until January 2006, it's likely to result in a scramble among nightclubs in Buckhead, Midtown and even downtown to lock in agreements with parking lot owners or risk losing their licenses. The new ordinance does not affect bars or restaurants.

Shook concedes that the ordinance represents a "back-door approach" at reining in the number of nightclubs that have sprung up in Buckhead Village because of the area's exemption from parking requirements under the city's zoning laws. And, in other parts of the city, nightclubs that are supposed to have dedicated parking often have been found to be sharing the same spaces with several other clubs.

"I fully expect we'll get sued," Shook says. "There's too much at stake for us not to."

Muller is unwilling to predict how many clubs could be forced to close as a result of the new ordinance, but says she believes the move could spur the building of parking decks in Buckhead and could help shift the neighborhood's emphasis toward retail and restaurants.

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