Update: Losing license no surprise to Club Majestic owner, lawyer says

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 11, 2013 

Update (4:20 p.m.): It came as no surprise this morning when Columbus Council voted unanimously to revoke James Weaver Jr.’s alcoholic beverage license, effectively shutting down the notorious Club Majestic on Cusseta Road.

“We anticipated as much,” said attorney Alfonza Whitaker, who represented Weaver, who was absent due to health problems. “We knew the license would be difficult to keep, given the violations and things. We feel that while there were some incidents, Mr. Weaver could have done better. But being as old as he is, as trusting as he is, people take advantage of people like that. That’s exactly what happened in this case.”

On New Year’s Day, a Columbus State University student was shot dead in the club and several others were wounded in a shootout. When police arrived at the shooting, they discovered underage people in the club and employees of the club without ABC cards.

About a month after the shooting, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson sent Weaver a certified letter warning him that if “persistent criminal activity” at the club did not cease, the city would at least shut the club down and possibly confiscate the property, as is allowed under state law.

Tomlinson reminded Whitaker during the revocation hearing that the issue at hand was not the criminal activity on the property. The license forfeiture was due to underage patrons and the lack of ABC cards, she said.

The license revocation effectively shuts the facility down as a nightclub, but the family is still worried about the city coming after their property, Whitaker said.

Tomlinson said the city would seek either an injunction against the club or seizure of the property only if the kind of criminal activity the site has seen continues. Absent that, the family should have nothing to worry about.

“Seizing people’s property is a very drastic measure, so we proceed very cautiously” Tomlinson said. “We’re glad to do anything we can to facilitate the productive use of that property.”

Whitaker said the family would like to use the building as a social hall for private parties, weddings and receptions. But they remain concerned about the criminal element that remains in the neighborhood, he said.

The revocation means neither Weaver nor anyone in his immediate family can apply for a new license for one year.

In other action, after an executive session to discuss litigation, councilors voted to pay almost $160,000 in fees and costs related to the city’s failed appeal of a reduced property tax assessment.

Council also voted unanimously to approve creating a Community Cat program that would help control the county’s feral cat population.

The program authorizes colony caretakers to feed the colonies and possibly assist in the capturing of the cats so the can be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and returned to the wild.

Tuesday's story: Columbus Council may decide Tuesday whether or not Club Majestic, a Cusseta Road bar where a 24-year-old college student was gunned down New Year's Day, will remain open as a bar.

One of the first orders of business at Tuesday morning's council meeting is to be a revocation hearing, during which Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will ask councilors to revoke the establishment's alcoholic beverage license, according to council's agenda.

Tomlinson sent club owner James Weaver Jr. a certified letter Feb. 4, advising him that the club had become a "public nuisance" due to "persistent criminal activity." She warned him that the city has the authority to shut the club down and even confiscate the property, should the activity persist.

"You are hereby notified that said property is a chronic site of criminal and derelict activity, and has become a public nuisance," Tomlinson's letter stated.

The mayor offered to meet with Weaver and assist in "stabilizing and improving" the situation at the club.

"Should the situation not be addressed promptly and in a satisfactory manner, however, we will be forced to pursue all remedies afforded to us under the law," she wrote.

Georgia law authorizes cities to seek injunctions against problem property owners and even to seize property in extreme circumstances.

Tomlinson's letter to Weaver cited and included copies of a couple of dozen incident reports of police being called to the property at 2102 Cusseta Road. Several of the reports were connected to the fatal New Year's Day shooting.

Charles Foster, a Columbus State University student, was fatally shot in the chest after shots were fired on the dance floor. Shots also were fired outside the club.

Columbus police charged Dequandrea Truitt, 21, and Shaquille Porter, 20, with murder and assault in connection with Foster's death and injuries to six men and women at the club. The injured were inside and outside the club.

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