Ybor club managers arrested for violating noise ordinance

Tampa police says Club Fuel, a hip-hop club, ignores warnings about its booming music.

Published June 30, 2007

TAMPA - Two managers of Club Fuel, a hip-hop club in Ybor City, were arrested after Tampa police officers said the club yet again violated city noise ordinances.

Police arrested Richard Mackizer, the club's senior vice president of operations, at 10:15 p.m. Thursday after finding the noise outside the club's opened front door was 15 decibels over city limits. Police arrested general manager Blerim Ljena when they returned at 12:30 a.m. and found the noise outside the club's closed back was 10 decibels louder than permitted.

This was Mackizer's fourth citation for Fuel's booming music. On Thursday, he will be tried on two other violations, dating from Jan. 5 and Nov. 17, 2006. Assistant City Attorney David Shobe said there are eight criminal cases pending against Fuel managers for noise ordinance violations, the most of any Tampa nightclub.

Shobe said if Mackizer is found guilty, the City Council could hold a public hearing to discuss suspending the club's permit to sell alcohol.

Mackizer was not jailed on his previous citations. Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said officers first give warnings to those they cite for ordinance violations. But because this was his fourth violation, Mackizer was arrested. Ljena was arrested because his address was outside Tampa city limits.

"Our first option is trying to work with the clubs, " he said. "We don't want to take people to jail on a noise ordinance violation."

At a City Council meeting this month, police and residents poured out the problems caused by nightclubs, which they say make the area dangerous and unpleasant for residents.

Tampa police Capt. Mark Hamlin said Fuel has been uncooperative with efforts to tone down the volume.

"They like to leave the front doors open and that actually makes the sound even great, " he said. "I wish they would just keep the doors closed."

He said club managers know the noise exceeds the limit when it leaves its front doors open.

"They're well aware, which tells me they are purposely violating the noise ordinance, " he said.

Richard Boom, owner of the Dirty Shame Irish Pub across the street from Fuel, said he was glad the police are cracking down on businesses that violate the noise ordinance. He said he and other owners are frustrated by the city's slow response to the problems

"There's a feeling that because it's in Ybor City they won't change it, " he said. "It does seem like just the fact that they're arrested might mean that the police are a little more diligent just because of the public pressure."

Sarah Mishkin can be reached at smishkin@sptimes.com or 813 225-3110.