For a problem that didn’t exist—not yet, anyway—Palm Coast expended great energy since last fall to decide whether to regulate bottle clubs, a form of bar where patrons bring their own booze, as in fraternal organizations. Tuesday evening, in what amounted to the ninth municipal hearing or meeting on the matter, the Palm Coast City Council voted 5-0 to ban bottle clubs outright, except in their incarnations as fraternal organizations.
The council will vote again in two weeks on the same measure, enacting it then, though in effect nothing will change: no businesses will be forced to close. They’ll simply not be allowed to open. But aside from one possible such club at City Market Place, bottle clubs were not lining up to open in the city.
That City Market Place possibility triggered a unanimous response from city businesses, many of them concentrated at City Market Place. The letters to the city echoed the same sentiments: “Knowing the type of clientele that bottle clubs typically arise from such an establishment,” one such letter went, “we definitely do not want this type of business in the City Marketplace, or anywhere in Palm Coast or the surrounding areas for that matter.”
The city council first discussed the issue in November then sent the matter for review to its administrative planning staff and its planning board, voting on a 120-day moratorium on such clubs in the meantime. The planning board recommended an outright ban. The council followed suit after yet another brief presentation from Mark Carman, commander of the Palm Coast precinct for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies, he said, are “relieved” that the ban will be enacted, as it will keep them from being overtaxed with the sort of police responses he said are typically generated by bottle clubs. He cited Volusia County’s experience.