TERRE HAUTE —
A proposed dance permit ordinance waltzed its way out of the Terre Haute City Council chamber Thursday night after those proposing the legislation asked for more time to work on it.
Last week, Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse petitioned the council to adopt the six-page ordinance, which requires a city-issued permit for some for-profit dances. At the request of Plasse and other police officials, City Attorney Chou-il Lee asked the council to table the measure.
“We want to go over this ordinance a little bit closer and review the language in it,” Lee told the council.
Supporters of the ordinance have said it is designed to better regulate dance events that have been the scene of fights and gunshots in recent months.
Even after it was clear the ordinance would not be voted on Thursday, several members of the public stepped to the council’s microphone to speak against it.
“I don’t think it would do any of the things it’s intended to do,” said Bob Flott, who promotes bands that play at dances in the city. Violence can still take place even if an event has received a permit, he said. “This could really, really hurt some venues,” he said.
James Porter, owner of The Event Center, also spoke to the council. Porter, whose business has been mentioned in connection with the ordinance, said he feels his business is being targeted.
“This ordinance, to me, seems like it’s directed strictly at me,” Porter said.
Porter hosts for-profit dances at The Event Center, which is on east Wabash Avenue near Fruitridge Avenue. His dances can attract more than 1,000 people, a majority of which are from out of town, he said.
“If you have 1,000 people somewhere and there’s no police there, then there’s going to be trouble,” Porter told the council. “We need help from the police, from the city.”
Speaking later, Porter said he provides private security at his events and any gun shots fired have been outside or several blocks away.
Other people speaking Thursday night said they were concerned about the language in the ordinance. They asked, for example, whether it would apply to high school class reunions or a square dance club. The owner of one restaurant where dancing also takes place, Curt Phillips of Tippecanoe Place, also asked the council not to pass the ordinance.
The ordinance currently does not require a permit from fraternal, educational, governmental, charitable, religious organizations or “bona fide” clubs. In its current form, it would also exempt events, such as wedding receptions, night clubs, show clubs, dance schools or theatrical performances.
One person, Heidi Bates of West Terre Haute, said she opposed the ordinance but also objected to the list of exemptions.
“Why is it okay for others to not do what you’re trying to force [Porter] and other club owners to do,” Bates asked the council. “If one does it, they should all have to do it, hands down.”
• Also Thursday, the council voted to withdraw a proposed historic preservation ordinance, also to be reworked and resubmitted for future consideration.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or email@example.com.