Eyewitness News Reporter
Chattanooga, TN (WRCB) - Chattanooga could be seeing a lot fewer businesses by 2013, if a new sprinkler system is not installed. It's all because of a new code being considered by the City Council. The rule change requires all nightclubs, to have this new system or be closed down.
For a few weeks now, night club owners have had one problem in common, sprinkler systems. If they didn't have them, this new law will force them to install or close.
As it turns out there's a lot of gray areas. For one, how do you define a night club.
The Comedy Catch owner Michael Alfano says, "I could stop serving liquor at 11pm which would make me not a night club according to the council's ordinance."
Alfano was at council when the first reading passed 6-3.
To afford the ball-parked $100,000 for sprinklers by 2013 he's considering several options, including passing the cost on to his customers. That's something he doesn't want to do.
"But these are bad economic times, I may have to. I think that for the fire sprinklers and for us to stay open, I think they wouldn't mind paying an extra dollar," said Alfano.
To prove his point, he asked the public, on The Comedy Catch's Facebook page, if they would mind paying more. The majority said they would not mind.
Alfano said, 2009 was his worst financial year. After rebounding a bit in 2010, he said the city hit him and other night club owners hard. Storm water, property tax increase, and now this, he says it's too much.
Alfano said, "it's bad enough with the economics, but to get hit three times by the city that you're trying to grow and prosper with is gut wrenching"
Alfano is upset because he doesn't consider The Comedy Catch a night club, he feels the city is lumping all so-called night clubs together, and cracking the whip.
"I think it's said and done, they need one more vote, and I have to deal with the fire marshal, and have until 2013 to make changes," said Alfano.