HAVERHILL — The License Commission voted to accept the return of alcohol and entertainment licenses for Vanity Night Club last night, closing the books on one of the most controversial and shortest-lived clubs in city history.
The commission was scheduled to consider alleged violations of owner Holly DeAngelo's alcohol and entertainment licenses, but cancelled those hearings after the Methuen resident acknowledged she has closed her Academy Plaza night club for good.
Two weeks ago, the commission suspended DeAngelo's entertainment license following a late-night disturbance outside the club on opening night. Police described a scene in which a mob of drunk and combative patrons surrounded, taunted and fought with officers trying to arrest troublemakers and disperse a large crowd blocking the plaza's exit.
Three people were arrested, but police said many more arrests would have been made if they had more officers to send to the club that night.
DeAngelo and her supporters said police exaggerated the scene outside the club opening night and accused police of instigating trouble and abusing their power.
Before the club even opened, DeAngelo was summoned to a commission meeting after advertising that go-go dancers would be performing at the Bradford venue. Officials said only patrons are allowed to dance in city clubs.
Hours after the Feb. 2 commission meeting ended, the owner of Academy Plaza, Donald Sheldon, said the club was finished and that the next business in his 717 So. Main St. building would not be a night club.
With DeAngelo returning her alcohol license, commission members said there was no need to hold a hearing last night on allegations of over-serving patrons, failing to control a crowd and violating the state's "happy hour" law.
DeAngelo was offered the opportunity to make a statement, but she declined. She stayed around after that for about two hours until the end of the meeting, however, to take care of one final piece of business.
At DeAngelo's request, the board agreed to return $2,500 she had paid for her alcohol license and $100 for her entertainment license, since she only used it for two nights.
License Commission chairman Joseph Edwards said the city has no policy for such a situation and that the commission could have kept all or some of the money.
"I say we give it back to her," Commission member Thomas Sullivan said.
In a related matter, the commission last night approved new rules requiring restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Haverhill to stop providing entertainment half an hour before closing time — at 1:30 Friday night and at 12:30 all other nights. Entertainment includes music, television, live performances and dancing.
Police and commission members have blamed much of the trouble that happened at Vanity Night Club's opening night on the fact DeAngelo let her patrons party right up until closing time and then dispersed them all outside at the same time. The idea behind stopping entertainment a half hour before closing time is that patrons will leave in a more gradual and orderly fashion, commission members said.
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