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Merrimack Valley

November 15, 2013

Zanni to review club rules

METHUEN — Mayor Stephen Zanni plans to review local rules governing how private clubs operate in the city in the wake of the Sahara Club losing its license indefinitely for multiple violations of its operating restrictions.

Zanni said he wanted to review the potential for a local ordinance to standardize the rules and restrictions on private clubs, which now follow state guidelines and ad hoc restrictions imposed on clubs on a case-by-case basis.

“I want the Licensing Board, the fire chief or his designee, the police chief and myself, once the investigation is done, to meet with residents and we’ll talk about not only the Sahara Club but all private clubs in the city,” Zanni said.

Police are still investigating the Oct. 23 shooting that claimed the life of a Lawrence man outside the club. No one has been arrested for that shooting.

Police Chief Joseph Solomon said officers have spoken with two grand juries in the case and are still following leads.

David Rivera, 28, 246 Farnham St., Lawrence, was shot multiple times on Greendale Street near the Sahara at about 1 a.m. Oct. 23, and died shortly after.

State law gives licensing authority to cities and towns, and leaves each local licensing board to create its own restrictions as they deem necessary, including hours operation and days permitted for the sale of alcohol.

The state does restrict clubs to selling alcohol only to its members or “to guests introduced by members, and no others,” according to the law.

Residents complained at a Licensing Board meeting on Wednesday that the Sahara Club may have been selling alcohol and allowing entry to guests who were not accompanied by members, Solomon said.

A Sahara Club member leased the club space late in the evening Oct. 22 and into Oct. 23, according to the Licensing Board. A guest list was not kept that night, one of the violations that led the Licensing Board to suspend the Sahara’s license Wednesday.

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