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Dancehall Permits More Costly Than Anticipated

City leaders promised nightclub owners last year that the fee for a dance hall permit would be "nominal." Apparently, the city's definition of nominal depends on whether they are levying or paying it. The fee for a dance hall permit, which Charlotte clubs must have to stay open after 2:30am since July, was supposed to be between $10 and $100, if one believed debate surrounding the issue and information distributed by the city.

But Mythos owner Andy Kastanas said his club paid about $900 for their permit, which is good for a year.

"It is not like they said it would be," said Kastanas. "They said a nominal fee."

Sergeant Eddie Levins with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said the clubs pay a $200 application fee, $400 in other charges and $25 for background checks on each person working there. For big clubs like Mythos, which employs quite a few people, costs can become exorbitant.

Levins said the city arrived at the fee structure by taking a percentage of the salaries of all the police personnel who in some way work on the permitting process.

"That's what it added up to," said Levins, who added that Mythos probably recoups that amount of money in one night.

Carol Adams, an advocate for Charlotte's clubs, says many are paying $750 to $850 per year. She says the cost is prohibitive to some clubs, especially those that are just getting started. Ten clubs currently hold the permits.

Council passed the dance hall ordinance to help control supposed drug use and other crimes at clubs. Council members believed that young people were sneaking into clubs and partaking of illegal activities associated with some nightclubs.

Clubs operating after 2:30am without a permit could be fined up to $500 a day.