A proposed teen and young adult dance club is one step closer to opening in Oak Forest—but not before the owner meets several requirements set by the city.
After nearly an hour of discussion, Aldermen Laura Clemons and Dan Ensing were steadfast against the plan, which received nods from the five others present.
Patron age, alcohol and security topped the list of concerns, and aldermen established several conditions owner James Marcanio will have to meet before the club for 16- to 22-year-olds can open its doors.
Prior to building permit approval, Marcanio must submit a parking agreement between Oxygen Teen Nite Club and neighboring Original Pancake House.
Marcanio must submit a standard operational procedure safety manual for police and fire departments' review and comment.
Install fire sprinkler system in accordance with fire department regultaions.
Enforcement of curfews related to minors' use of facility.
"One of the things with a special use (permit) is that it is as of by right, as long as they meet the conditions," said Community Development Director Adam Dotson. "Meaning that, if indeed these conditions that are set forth in the ordinance are not met, they will not open.
If the owner meets, but later violates any of the conditions, the city could close the club.
Alderman Ensing was the first to speak up about his concerns surrounding the club, citing a Buffalo Grove police study that showed teen clubs are often the source of more police incidents than bars.
"You can say you're going to police it as best you can and you're going to hire off-duty police officers and you're going to do everything you can to keep the riff-raff out," Ensing said. "But, these towns that have them, find that they generally have a lot of issues when it comes to putting teen night clubs and teen dance halls in there."
Clemons added on to Ensing's concerns, citing patron age as problematic.
"My concern in my overview with this is the age discrepancy, 16 to 22," Clemons said. "Does that mean 22 is the cut-off or will somebody over 22 be allowed in, so that there's a potential for a 29-year-old dancing on the dance floor with a 16-year-old?"
Marcanio said that security for the location will be made up of off-duty Crestwood, and hopefully, Oak Forest police officers, who will check IDs and scan any guests with a wand. He added that a security car will patrol the parking lot throughout the night to ensure that no fights or trouble happen outside of the establishment.
Marcanio added that the club will strictly enforce the city's curfew for its younger guests, turning down the music and turning up the lights about a half hour before curfew to escort younger patrons out of the establishment.
Older patrons would probably enter around 11 p.m., limiting the mingling of the youngest patrons with older patrons. Security will keep a close eye on older guests.
"There's predators out there, and it's our job to keep these kids out there safe and secure," Marcanio said.
While aldermen worried that the owner might eventually request permission to have alcohol on the premises, Marcanio dispelled that idea.
"We are never asking for [alcohol]," he said. "We're not having alcohol."
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