Venue closing sparks outrage
Time: 11:23 AM
HEIRLOOM ARTS THEATRE, an all-ages independent music venue located in downtown Danbury, Connecticut, is closed until further notice following a police raid that took place on Saturday night.
The venue was holding a hip hop and graffiti art show when police entered the venue to inspect reports of alcohol sales. According to Zoning Enforcement Officer Sean Hearty, the building, located at 155 Main Street, has been zoned as an entertainment center since 2001 and cannot legally sell alcohol. The inspection, which was a joint effort between the police and the Mayor's office, showed the venue was selling alcohol with a caterer's permit and was subsequently shut down by police, Hearty said.
UPDATE, 6:12pm: Hearty called to say that the inspection was a joint effort between the police and the Zoning Department, not the Mayor's Office.
Hearty could not confirm that underage drinking was also taking place at the venue. Calls to the Danbury Police Department for comment were not returned, and police reports about the incident were not available this afternoon.
Hearty explained that the Heirloom's zoning permit has been revoked and a hearing will take place to determine the venue's future.
"At the very least there will be a temporary suspension [of their permit]," he said in a phone interview.
The raid at Heirloom, which has been open since 2008, came just weeks after the Mayor proposed a new license to the Danbury Main Street Partnership that would allow night clubs and bars exactly like Heirloom to open downtown this coming fall. Currently, new bars can only open as accessories to restaurants, so there is no way for Heirloom to serve alcohol and abide by the downtown area's zoning regulations.
When asked if Heirloom's case might be considered in a different light now that a new entertainment license is on the table for downtown Danbury, Hearty said probably not.
"No, there's no grey area here," he said. "It's not like it's a restaurant also being run as a night club. I don't perceive an impact, but that's the Mayor's call."
Staff from Heirloom did not return calls for comment.
UPDATE, 6:55pm: Heirloom Arts Theatre stated that the venue is anxious to meet with Zoning, fulfull any needed requirements and reopen for business.
This story has sparked outrage online with many people accusing the mayor as the master mind behind the raid.
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