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Wed February 3, 2010
Council denies appeal of license revocation
By Scott Harvey
Commerce – The Commerce City Council last night upheld a revocation of the city's community center dance hall license.
Police Chief Kerry Crews addressed the council and expressed concern for the safety of his officers from recent incidents at The Lodge, located at 2302 Live Oak.
Crews showed police cam video of a New Year's Day shooting where 23 shots were fired within a couple of minutes only after officers had arrived on scene. He says that since the business opened in 2003, his department has received 17 calls, 1 person has been stabbed, three shot and one officer has been shot at.
Crews says investigations into these incidents indicates gang-related activity from the Commerce and Greenville areas. He felt as long as the business is allowed to carry a dance hall license, this activity will continue. The Hunt County Sheriff's Department has also had to use a number of its resources when called to backup Commerce PD.
During a public hearing Tuesday night, Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks and A&M-Commerce Police Chief Donna Spinato spoke in favor of the revocation.
Carol Davis, who lives near The Lodge, feels the criminals should be the ones punished and not the community center, stating "it's not the owners fault, it's those with guns."
Dennis Walman is the facility's owner and appealed the revocation. In his defense Tuesday night, Walman made a lengthily presentation to council referencing several emails to Chief Crews asking for assistance. He also cited flyers to his business that promoted safety and prohibited criminal activity. Walman claimed the shots fired on New Year's Day took place outside the building and never once have shots been fired inside. He felt that upholding the revocation would severely put a strain on the businesses patrons. "Think of who you're punishing," said Walman.
In the end, council voted 4-0 to uphold Chief Crew's decision to revoke the dance hall license. Mayor Quay Throgmorton was not present.
Even with no dance hall license, The Lodge will still be allowed to operate in as a reception venue, according to Crews. However, he's looking into filing a nuisance abatement with the Texas Attorney General's office which could temporarily or permanently shut down the business.
The Lodge at 2302 Live Oak is in no way associated with The Lodge (The Wedding Lodge) located at 925 Bois D'Arc Street.