- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Owners of a nightclub next to a church on the outskirts of Laurel have halted efforts to turn the business into a strip club amid mounting criticism from community leaders and lawmakers.

The owners of Club Amazon must pay a $5,000 fine and transfer their liquor license to someone else within 90 days, the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners ruled last week.

Under the agreement, the owners agreed the club won’t operate as a nightclub but as a “family friendly” establishment.

A shooting near the club in April prompted calls for its closure. The club operates at Route 1 and Contee Road, just past Laurel’s city limits.

The Washington Times first reported about the club in December.

Neighborhood residents raised opposition to the new ownership last year, citing a triple homicide in the parking lot of a strip club that the owners operated in Hyattsville in 2003.

The ownership, Hyo Myung Enterprises Inc., had its liquor license revoked before county regulators allowed it to transfer last year to the Route 1 location.

“We’re pleased with the action,” said Delegate Barbara Frush, Prince George’s Democrat. “We thank the owners of the club for their concern for the community.”

She said she expects state lawmakers to enact legislation during the next General Assembly session to tighten local liquor regulations in response to the Club Amazon troubles.

“Once a license is revoked, it should stay revoked. You shouldn’t be allowed to pick up and transfer it to another area. That’s ridiculous,” Mrs. Frush said.

Club owners and opponents struck a deal shortly before a liquor board hearing last week, said the Rev. Wale Maye, pastor of the 80-member, nondenominational Touch of Love Bible Church next to the club.

The liquor board approved the agreement, which included the license transfer provision.

“I think it’s a great deal, the best we could get,” said Mr. Maye, an outspoken critic of Club Amazon. “Finally, this has been put to rest. We’re thankful we were able to get the community, the church and the elected officials working together to make this happen.”

In January, Club Amazon officials promised to run a family-friendly restaurant, but community leaders said the owners continued operating the business as a nightclub.

Calls for the club’s closure were renewed with an April 22 shooting outside the establishment.

One man suffered life-threatening injuries from three gunshots and several nearby cars were hit, Laurel and county police officers said.

Club owner Robyn Kim called the shooting “an unfortunate incident.”

She could not be reached for further comment.

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