Fight brewing in Camden over business curfew

To cut down on crime, Camden city government is once again proposing a curfew for businesses.  The city tried before in 1998 and 2006, but was defeated by a court challenge.  This time, officials feel they’re on solid legal footing.

If passed, the ordinance would force businesses to close at 11:00 PM on weeknights, and midnight Friday and Saturday nights.

Camden city spokesman Robert Corrales says the new ordinance will allow businesses to seek exemptions on a case by case basis.  It will also exempt any business with a liquor license, drive-through, or parking lot.

“We’re not looking to harm anybody,” Corrales said.  “Everybody’s going to get their fair time and fair share to express any concerns.  What we’re seeking to do here is just to improve the quality of life, public health and safety for our residents and businesses.”

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Opponents plan to sue the city again if the law is enacted, saying it would hurt some businesses significantly while doing little to cut down on crime.  Community activist Frank Fulbrook, who was behind the original challenges, says the law would drive customers out of town.

“Why would you want to stifle business in Camden and encourage an increase in business activity outside Camden?  It’s totally irrational, and it’s disloyal to the city of Camden, and it’s anti-business,” said Fulbrook.

The bill could come up for a final vote in a few weeks.

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