Ridgedale residents want crack-down on unregulated Chattanooga ' - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Ridgedale residents want crack-down on unregulated Chattanooga 'event halls'

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The Ridgedale community wants Chattanooga city officials to do something about event halls tied to recent violence.

Just recently, a young man was shot and killed outside of 'Da Building' on Dodds Avenue. The owner not only denies serving alcohol after hours, but he also says his business was not even open the night of the shooting.

In the meantime, Ridgedale residents are begging for action.

"I've been shot, stabbed and robbed numerous times," says Charles Manis, the president of the Ridgedale Community Association.

Manis says the recent shootings outside of 'Da Building' and 'The Event Hall' on East Main, drove him to close his business of 25 years.

"Anything that comes and goes there always brings its own baggage," says Gary Ball.

Ball is also a business owner in the area. He, along with other neighbors Channel 3 talked to, say nothing good comes from the after-hour parties held at event halls like 'Da Building.'

"They get around the alcohol board by not charging for the beer. It's covered in the cover charge," says Manis.

Shortly after interviewing Charles and Gary, our camera caught up with Dexter Staples, the owner of 'Da Building.' He did not want to answer any of our questions on camera, but he told us his business does not serve alcohol, just late-night parties with good food.  
     
Ball does not buy it.

"Just because they found some loophole to say they're not selling it in there, doesn't make it something that ought to be let go, for underage drinking and everything else goes on over there," he says.

The city does not buy it either.

"Anytime you have alcohol and entertainment, in a completely unregulated environment in the middle of the night, you have the mix for trouble," says Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

Mayor Berke says the city is working to close any loopholes.

"The first step to me, is to make sure that they have the same rules that our bars and other establishments have," says Berke.

"That may be possible, one thing we can do is classify them and require them to have certain kinds of conditions," says City Councilman Moses Freeman.

Freeman, the chair of the public safety committee, says they need more than regulation.  

"Clamping down on the event halls in my mind is not going to solve the problem, it's just going to put a band aid on it."

Freeman wants to point out, there are legitimate event halls that serve as spaces for community events and fundraisers and the city is not looking to punish those establishments. He says the safety committee plans on holding hearings to figure out the best way to regulate these businesses.

Dexter Staples promised us he would tell us his side of the story once he clears it with his attorney.

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