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Birmingham City Council votes unanimously to revoke Skky Nightclub’s business license after public hearing

On Tuesday the Birmingham City Council voted unanimously to revoke Skky Nightclub’s business license and rescind the resolutions approving the club’s liquor license.

During the public hearing, which lasted well over an hour, the owner of the Five Points South club, along with concerned citizens presented arguments as to why they think the club should either remain open or have the business license revoked.

Julie Bernard, City of Birmingham attorney, said that the city has received numerous complaints earlier this year from the Five Points South Alliance and that there are concerns that the club has violated ABC (Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control) regulations and fights frequently occur in the club.

“This club has created an atmosphere of fear…When people are afraid, they don’t come around anymore,” Council President Valerie Abbott said (the nightclub is in her district). “These incidents are ongoing. People have been complaining and it’s taken us a while to do anything. It’s long past time to act.”

A video was shown of a violent incident in the club, with chairs being thrown and people hitting each other. A representative for Birmingham’s law enforcement said the one officer who was in the club at the time had to call for backup.

Captain Ronald Sellers, with the Birmingham Police Department South Precinct, said the club is a “drain on resources” in the early morning hours on the weekend. “We’re having to close down multiple beats when this club is letting out,” Sellers said, as he made a case for why the city should revoke the club’s business license.

“We’re using multiple cars to block the street when people are coming out of the club. This conversation should not come as a surprise to the owner of the club because we have had these conversations for over a year,” Sellers said. “This is the only club the South Precinct has to deal with on a regular basis,” he continued, citing other entertainment districts such as Avondale and Lakeview.

By his estimate, “[the City of Birmingham is] spending thousands of dollars,” each night to control the crowd coming out of the club.

The debate on the fate of the nightclub has been going on for over a month after a series of violent incidents and complaints were brought to the attention of the council. The Cobb Lane Bed and Breakfast, a historic home that sits just a half a block away from Skky, can actually be seen from the club. Sheila Chaffin, the owner of the property who spoke earlier this month at the Public Safety and Transportation Committee meeting, told the council about how violent incidents have spilled over into the alley behind her property and left visitors feeling uneasy.

“I live the closest to any testimony you’ll hear this evening,” Chaffin said. “After one incident, which a guest left a note, they start talking about the shooting, saying over breakfast, ‘did you all hear the shooting last night?’ It’s very disturbing. It’s hard to run a business as it is but having something like this can leave a bad reputation for the region.” Most of her patrons are from out of town and she believes the club down the street is not a business that benefits the area.

Summer Childers, a representative with the ABC board also spoke in support of the law enforcement’s stance on Skky Nightclub, citing multiple violations of underage drinking as a result of the “private club” license the club possessed. Abbott referred to this as “a license from Hades” that has led to violent incidents occurring among underage patrons.

“There have been strong exaggerations of what goes on at Skky,” Henry Walker, an attorney representing Skky, told the council. “Basically there have been three problems. The shooting in the club, I believe no matter where the man who was found was he would have been shot. He would’ve been shot in church because of the ongoing issues…There was a teen party that was supervised by parents and a fight occurred.”

Walker said the third incident was a “perfect storm” on September 1. “There was a fight in Skky and when we moved people out there was a shooting outside,” Walker said, noting there was no testimony that provided evidence that the shooting was related to Skky.

The revocation of the business license will go into effect immediately.

This article is a contribution from Cody Owens in the Birmingham City Council Office of Public Information. For more information contact him at cody.owens@birminghamal.gov or (205) 254-2294.