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Dixie hires counsel, asks to postpone extended-hours appeal hearing

January 7, 2019
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The Dixie Roadhouse has retained legal counsel and has requested a postponement of Tuesday's special appeals hearing before Cape Coral City Council, called to determine if an emergency suspension of its extended hours permit would be upheld or overturned by the elected board.

"We ask that you waive the 30 day requirement for a hearing to be held in this matter, and accept this letter as a formal request to postpone the Emergency Hearing scheduled for January 8, 2019," the email to Council from Wilbur Smith, Attorneys at Law states. "The basis for my request is that my firm was retained today, January 4, 2019 and would like to have adequate time to prepare for this hearing."

The request has been added to today's regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

The Dixie Roadhouse/Rockade's extended hours permit, which allows the South Cape Entertainment District establishment to remain open one extra hour - until 3 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and some holidays - was suspended by Chief of Police David Newlan on Dec. 12. The action came four days after an altercation that happened shortly after 3 a.m. outside of the bar and in a nearby public parking lot. Approximately 40 people were involved, according to the Cape Coral Police Department.

According to a CCPD release issued following the incident, officers reported that "crowd members were yelling gang affiliated comments that were determined to be a gang out of Fort Myers that is also on the U.S. Attorney's Most Violent Offender List."

The release from CCPD also read: "Chief Newlan's concern was about the increasing threat to the public health, safety and welfare resulting from activity at Dixie Roadhouse which is compounded by the Dixie Roadhouse's failure to correct conduct or activity that has resulted in a negative impact on the health, safety, and welfare of the public generally, as well as of the patrons. More specifically, they have failed or refused to take reasonable precautions to discourage unlawful activity including, but not limited to, disturbances and vehicular use by intoxicated patrons."

CCPD said 13 police officers responded to the scene, including all of the south units available at the time.

"The necessary allocation of police personnel required by this violent activity compromised the police protection for the remaining south district for approximately one hour," the release continued.

No arrests were made.

The permit suspension does not affect The Dixie's regular operating hours, only the 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. weekend time.

The city ordinance that established the extended hour option in the South Cape Entertainment District only gives the chief of police the authority to suspend the city-issued permit. The ordinance also provides for an appeal process and The Dixie, owned by Colosseum LLC, noticed the city that it would appeal the emergency action.

In a statement via text message to The Breeze after the incident, David Townsend, Dixie Roadhouse marketing director and co-owner, said, "We have always fully co-operated with the Cape Coral Police Department and we will continue to do so until this matter is completely resolved."

If the postponement of the special meeting is granted, the suspension of the extended- hours permit will remain in place until a final determination is made.

Three South Cape venues applied for extended hours permits.

Backstreets and Remixx Lounge are the other two.

Cape Coral City Council meets at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.

-Connect with this reporter onTwitter: @haddad_cj



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