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    New Haven, Conn. Considers Limiting Retailers' Hours

    Convenience stores "are deteriorating neighborhoods," say city aldermen.

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- City officials in New Haven, Conn., are considering an ordinance to control what businesses operate in the pre-dawn hours, after a doughnut shop was robbed twice at gunpoint within a year. An ordinance is headed to the Board of Aldermen and the City Plan Commission has already passed the measure, reported the New Haven (Conn.) Register.

    The ordinance would prohibit 24-hour convenience stores and other businesses from opening in residential zones. Several aldermen said 24-hour operations -- namely convenience stores -- are deteriorating their neighborhoods. They?ve become unsavory hangouts for drug dealers and other undesirables during late-night hours.


    Several types of businesses would also require a special exception from zoning officials to operate in commercial zones between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Applicants would have to demonstrate a need to operate at those hours.

    The businesses in question include pawn and swap shops, gun shops, transient lodging, adult entertainment businesses, automotive and laundering services and stores that serve food, drinks and pharmaceuticals New Haven (Conn.) Register reported.

    The ordinance says the regulations are "necessary to prevent erosion of the character of our neighborhoods."
    "This has been kicked around for several years," said Michael Piscitelli, director of comprehensive planning. An ordinance has never actually made it to the books.
    "Forty percent of my problems are from 24-hour stores," said Alderman Charles Blango at a recent City Plan meeting. "One of my constituents was complaining and I realized there was nothing on the books.

    ?Three of my [constituents?] kids got shot in front of 24-hour stores," he said, according to the New Haven Register.

    Blango estimated that there are about 12 such stores in his Newhallville ward.

    "They sell the loose cigarettes and beer," said Alderwoman Mae Ola Riddick. "The [state] Liquor Commission never comes down; you can hardly get police there."

    Riddick said she gets regular late-night calls from constituents in her Dixwell ward about these stores.

    At least seven city shootings this year happened outside or in close proximity to establishments that operate between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to police records.

    By early November, New Haven had 89 city shootings. Forty-two of them ? about 47 percent ? happened between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., the New Haven Register reported.

    At least 55 commercial robberies at gunpoint occurred this year. About 13 of the robberies ? about 23 percent ? happened between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

    New Haven police officers confirmed that 24-hour businesses tend to attract a bad element, giving drug dealers and gang members an excuse to loiter late at night.

    Some business managers say late-night hours are treacherous. Others say it?s not so bad, or blame it on police, the newspaper reported.

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