PORTLAND – A City Council committee voted Thursday night to recommend restrictions for establishments that want after-hours entertainment licenses from the city.

The issue surfaced this month, when Port City Music Hall sought an after-hours entertainment license for its music venue on Congress Street, in Portland’s arts district.

An after-hours license allows a club to remain open from 1 to 3 a.m. — two hours beyond the citywide closing time. During those early-morning hours, clubs can offer music and dancing, but cannot legally serve alcohol.

Portland police Cmdr. Vern Malloch said only three nightclubs in the city now have after-hours permits: Styxx, a nightclub on Spring Street; 51 Wharf, a bar in the Old Port; and Platinum Plus, an adult entertainment club on Riverside Street.

“We recognize that there is a lot of support for after-hours entertainment in the city, but we are not seeking to ban it, only to control it,” Malloch told the City Council’s Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee.

Committee members voted 3-1 to recommend new rules for businesses that apply for after-hours entertainment permits. The proposal now goes to the City Council for its meeting April 2.

Under the proposal, applicants would have to develop security plans — subject to review by the police department — before going before the council to request the permits.

Each license holder would be limited to two after-hours events a month. Police say that provision would reduce the impact on neighborhoods and the strain on police resources.

A special permit would be needed from the City Clerk’s office for each date when an after-hours event is planned.

Councilors Edward Suslovic, Jill Duson and John Coyne voted to support the restrictions. Councilor David Marshall voted against them, saying he saw no need to make changes to the licensing process because the current license holders have not caused problems.

The committee members who supported the changes insisted that the clubs that now hold licenses be exempt. Port City Music Hall also will be exempt if the City Council approves the license application during its meeting Monday night.

Malloch said Thursday night that the police department, which had initial concerns about granting Port City an after-hours license, will not oppose the application.

He also said, “The police department has always been concerned about after-hours entertainment. … These places can serve as a magnet for people leaving bars. There is a high level of those people who are intoxicated.”

Representatives of the music hall met with police and agreed to empty their lounge before 1 a.m., to allow the staff to screen anyone who shows up at 1 a.m. for drunkenness.

Roped entrance lines would be set up outside the club, to direct people into the building in an orderly fashion. All after-hours events would require advance tickets.

Rob Evon, general manager of Port City Music Hall, said before Thursday’s meeting that hosting live music events and parties after 1 a.m. would enable his business to tap into the group of people who venture into the city for a late night on the town.

Evon addressed the council committee, saying, “I think late-night entertainment is important for Portland in general, especially if we want to make Portland a live music destination similar to places like New Orleans or Nashville.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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