SkyZoo, a nightclub whose decade-old special permit to operate well past midnight was revoked after a rash of police calls and a fatal shooting in May, has resumed its early morning closing times.
Without the permit, the Lee Highway nightclub was only permitted to serve beer and alcohol until 11 p.m.
The club appealed the revocation, apparently successfully. Although the outcome of the proceeding has not yet become a public record, the bar now has a "last call" at 2:20 a.m.
In its petition, SkyZoo claimed that by revoking the permit the city reduced both the hours the nightclub could remain open and the number of patrons permitted on the premises — claiming the decision was causing "irreparable harm."
SkyZoo also claimed the city of Chattanooga "harassed" the nightclub and did not allow for a "fair and impartial hearing" before voting to revoke the permit in the first place.
SkyZoo said it was unfairly blamed for violence it did not cause and should still be allowed to retain the permit.
The permit was revoked during a hearing July 6, shortly after a May 29 fatal shooting led the city to take a closer look at whether it was safe to allow SkyZoo to continue operating as a nightclub.
During that hearing, Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy testified that police had responded to more than 100 serious calls at SkyZoo in the previous 12 months.
"We had a total of 36 disorders, 27 suspicious persons, 18 fights or disorders, 15 self-initiated field interviews, 10 assault calls and eight shots fired, person shot or other incidents involving a firearm," Roddy said at the time. "Now that is not the total calls for service. That's just the types of calls that I just illustrated for you."
He further clarified that number did not include medical, domestic violence, traffic incidents and other calls.
In the petition, SkyZoo said it wants the content of those calls to be reviewed and would like the opportunity to question witnesses to those alleged incidents as a matter of "fundamental fairness."
It also said a group of 15 city inspectors and administrative personnel visited within the first two weeks following the May 29 shooting with the intention to "comply with the mayor's wishes of shutting the place down by Friday at 4 p.m."
This, according to the petition, was the second time the city sent a "battery of inspectors" to SkyZoo with the intention of closing the business.
In a response submitted Sept. 10, the city admitted it had taken action against SkyZoo in accordance with Chattanooga City Code 38-567 and said that Leo Dacoregio, a part-owner of SkyZoo, testified to the city council on July 6 that he was willingly giving up his special exceptions permit because he hoped to turn the nightclub into a sports bar.
At the hearing, Dacoregio did say he was willing to do so.
"I'm giving you my [permit] back, my exception. I don't want to be a nightclub anymore," Dacoregio said at the time. "I'm old. I want to go home and hang out with my kids. I don't want to die."
"You think I ain't scared? I'm scared for my people too. So turning to a sports bar, I think that's going to lower it a lot," Dacoregio said.
The city said in the petition that it believes its actions in revoking the SkyZoo special permit were supported by evidence and brought forward in good faith.
The city further suggested the bar's appeal should result in a fine for bad faith litigation.
The Times Free Press reached out to City Attorney Emily O'Donnell on Tuesday via phone and email with no response. Leo Dacoregio also did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
Contact Kelcey Caulder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.