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Complaint filed against Elks Lodge in Fort Pierce for operating as 'nightclub'

Posted: 11:53 PM, Jul 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-17 12:51:33-04
Complaint filed against Elks Lodge in Fort Pierce for operating as 'nightclub'

A Fort Pierce resident and business owner wants the city to shut down an Elks Lodge in Fort Pierce, after he claims the civic organization isn’t operating as it should.

Kelvin Hair owns a nightclub in the city, not far from the Elks Lodge near Avenue M and 25th Street and filed a complaint with the city.

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Hair said he had no problems opening near the lodge, as it wasn’t a competition. The Elks Lodge is only supposed to sell alcohol to members and non-resident guests of members, Hair said.

“It’s an Elks Lodge, so I thought they’d operate legally because the Elks Lodge that we know are really upstanding,” Hair said.

Hair said instead, he found fliers on social media promoting the Elks Lodge as a nightclub. Fliers advertised drink specials, cash giveaways and DJ nights.

"Many people have been there that I know personally are not members,” Hair said.

He also learned this isn’t The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Elks Lodge he believes most people are used to.

The city does have that Elks Lodge is located on 5th street.

This Elks Lodge, at the center of the complaint, is part of a different civic organization known as the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World.

They also have another distinct difference: The number of times calls have been made to police or fire rescue.

Documents show more than 400 records of communication from police or citizens in the last five years for the location on Avenue M and 25th Street. Those calls include shootings, fights, and assaults. They also include foot patrols and closed patrols from police.

“They’re a grave tax burden on the police department,” Hair said.

The Elks Lodge on 5th street has closer to 50 calls for service, which are mostly medical needs and no reports of violence.

Hair wants to be assured the Elks lodge is following the rules.

“If you sell alcohol to anyone other than a member or a non-resident guest, you are guilty of serving alcohol without a license.”

Members at the Elks lodge told WPTV they do not operate as a nightclub and require all guests to sign in with a member.

City Manager Nick Mimms said, as a result, they’re not violating their license and found no code violations.

Hair took his concerns to city commissioners Monday, who said they do want someone to take a closer look at the calls for service to the Elks Lodge in question.

Commissioner Thomas Perona said he would like nuisance laws to be reviewed to see if they’re applicable to Hair’s concerns.

Hair also asked Mimms to recuse himself from the investigation, as Mimms’ family member is on the board for the location in question.