WELLINGTON, Fla. - For decades some Wellington businesses have been open late, but they've been issued letters telling them they're in violation of a code that hasn't been enforced in years.
More than a dozen businesses received notices saying they must apply to stay open past 11 at night and pay a fee or face fines.
JoJo's Raw Bar and Grill relies on late night business, and has since they opened five years ago, owner Jon Nolli said.
During the week his business stays open until 2 a.m. and on the weekends he stays open until 3 a.m.
A few weeks back, he found out that's against village code.
A notice was given to him from the Village saying Village code requires businesses within 300 feet of homes to limit their hours from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
"My business would close if I had to close that early," Nolli said.
Other restaurants, fast food chains, and gas stations received the notice too, the Wellington Chamber of Commerce said.
Even Ultima Fitness received the notice because they're open before 6 in the morning.
Each notice asked owners to fill out an extended hours application and send a $3,000 application fee.
"It's always been on the books but we've never enforced," Wellington Mayor Bob Margolis said.
Because of that more than a dozen angry business owners complained to the Village council.
Days later, a notice went out saying the ordinance wasn't going to be enforced.
"It's a little confusing because in the black and white of things we're really not suppose to be open," Nolli said.
When Margolis was asked why they're enforcing the law now, he answered, "There's no reason to enforce right now. The discussion came up because of The Grille."
The Grille Fashion Cuisine. A restaurant that applied to stay open until two in the morning and was denied by council.
It prompted code enforcement to look into other businesses that were open outside of the code's hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
"Why not just let the businesses stay open and not enforce the law like you have the past 20 years," NewsChannel 5's Ryan Calhoun asked the Mayor.
"That's a good question but since the question came up we really needed to get a handle on it," Mayor Margolis said.
Now the mayor says the Village is creating a new ordinance.
Question is, will businesses still have to pay the $3,000 application fee?
"If that's something we have to do we will," Nolli said. "But it seems like the right thing is to change the ordinance all together and enable us all to be open on a level playing field."
The mayor says it will take a few weeks to draft a new ordinance.
In the meantime, businesses can stay open with their extended hours.
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