Albany officials agree to 'not enforce' Cabaret Law - yet

Reported by: Julie Tremmel

Videographer: K. Mahoney
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Updated: 8/28/2012 6:59 am

After several weeks of hashing out their arguments on the Common Council floor, and through reporters in the media, Albany's Mayor and City Code Enforcement Attorney have had a sit down with the lawyer who has threatened to sue the city over the new Cabaret License Law.

And although local bar and club owners in Albany won't exactly be getting a phone call from the Mayor Jerry Jennings telling them the latest about what's going on with the status of the law, the City's Division of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance Director (City Code Enforcement Attorney) Jeffery Jamison says you have his assurance about one thing in particular as it regards the Cabaret Law.

Jamison said, "Until everybody has had the time period to go through the administrative process, we will not be enforcing the Cabaret License."

That means bars and clubs don't have to take care to adhere to the strict rules - yet.

One week ago dozens of Albany bar owners and entertainers gathered at a park on Central Avenue to protest the new Cabaret Licenses.

The licenses are mandated for those establishments interested in providing 'amplified' entertainment within the city.

The law says that bars no longer play live, D.J., or any amplified music or performances (including comedy routines, and drag shows) after 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and after 2 a.m. on Friday's and Saturday's.

It also states that no one under the age of 21 can hang out at a club or bar after 11 p.m.

Stephen DeNigris is the attorney representing Waterworks on Central Avenue.

DeNigris claims the new Cabaret License Law is illegal, and threatened to sue the city over it.

But, on Monday he sat down with Mayor Jennings and City Attorney Jamison to see if they could agree to some terms that may keep them out of court.

DeNigris said, "They (the mayor and code enforcement attorney) indicated that they were not going to enforce for the time being, and I indicated that I would not sue for the time being, then. So, we'll play it by ear."

Jamison says the city is trying to balance the interests of both the local neighborhood associations, and the local bar owners.

Jamison said, "I think that our interests are of all those parties, of all those stakeholders, and, again, we've been working on this for two years. And we tried to get a balanced approach to this legislation, that's what we put in place. And as we move forward, I think we're going to continue to balance everybody's interest, and so if any changes have to be made they will look at all aspects of it, at everybody's individual interests."

Jamison elaborates what was discussed at the meeting with DeNigris.

"He explained some of the concerns or issues that he had with the legislation, and we told him that there was an appeals process. We told him that we're continuing to look at it and review it, and that we'll look at all the cases and we'll continue to work with bar and restaurant owners as we have through the whole process, now two years long," Jamison said.

DeNigris said, "The mayor had his office reach out to me because of some comments that I made saying that we'd like to work with them, rather than have to sue them. I think when I talked to (FOX23) during our last interview and he saw an open door, an opportunity, so he reached out to me, and I was more than happy to come in and see what he had to say. I was very pleased with the meeting."

Jamison also left the conversation happy.

"I think we had a good conversation today. As you know, the mayor always tries to bring in all of the stakeholders, and have an upfront and honest conversation with them, and so that's what we did today, to move this forward," Jamison said.

DeNigris said, "I assured him (the mayor) that we would work with him to the maximum extent possible. We may continue to disagree; we may end up eventually in court if we can't agree. But I suspect that the Common Council will probably act sooner rather than later, because of all the concerns that were expressed."

Jamison said the city will give every establishment the opportunity to apply for a Cabaret License, and even file an appeal if they disagree with the limitations.

Jamison said, "When the time is up, then we will do what necessary enforcement we have to, at that time."

On Monday, FOX23 News spoke with several bar managers.

Some said they are adhering to the Cabaret Law already, some said they are not, while others had not even applied for the license yet.

The Code Enforcement Attorney says the city will not enforce the rules until all of the licenses and appeals are processed.

So, Jamison says, bar owners should not have any problem letting the music play late, or having underage people in the establishment after eleven, until further notice.

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