If legendary Southern rock band Molly Hatchet comes to Rincon next month, it won't be for an outdoor show.
Citing safety concerns and a lack of adequate planning time, Rincon City Council members voted 3-2 Wednesday in a special called meeting to deny a special use permit for Dakotas to sell beer outside on Nov. 7. Ben Rozier of Dakotas approached council members Monday night, asking for the special use permit in order to sell beer in conjunction with an outdoor benefit concert from Molly Hatchet.
Rozier and Dylan Riggs told council members the show would benefit the Somer Thompson Foundation, which was established after an Orange Park, Fla., 7-year-old was abducted while walking home from school on Oct. 19, 2009. Three days later, her body was found in a landfill in Charlton County. The Somer Thompson Foundation was created in her name to raise awareness and prevent violent crimes against children.
But while council members and city staff said they supported the idea, how to handle a crowd of unknown size was a worry for Rincon Police Chief Mike Bohannon.
"They've had up to 3,000 people (at their concerts)," the chief said, "and we're talking about selling alcohol at this."
Monday night, Rozier proposed not having any parking at his restaurant and using shuttles from off-site parking. But council members were worried about pedestrians crossing Highway 21 mixing with alcohol consumption.
"Trying to control everyone outside the perimeter is something we have to take into serious consideration," said council member Ann Daniel. "I'm terrified of people trying to cross (Highway) 21 all night long."
Said City Manager Michael Phillips: "I'd love to have great PR for the city. But all it takes is one injury."
Council member Paul Wendelken, who was vocal in his support of the idea at the council meeting Monday, wondered what kind of message turning it down would send.
"Do we not do it because of what may happen?" he said. "It's going to be, ‘Rincon turned down Molly Hatchet,' ‘Rincon turned down the foundation's request.'"
Bohannon, though, was concerned how many people would show up and what it would take to properly handle the crowd. Monday night, he recalled more than 3,000 people coming to Rebel Field at Effingham County High School. He told council members Wednesday that a typical shift for his department is three officers for the 7,500 Rincon citizens.
To adequately handle a crowd of thousands at a concert with alcohol being served, Bohannon said it might 20 to 25 officers and for that, he had requested the assistance of outside agencies.
"This could easily get out of hand," Bohannon said.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based band, now on tour in the Northeast, is playing in Manville, N.J., on Nov. 6 before heading south. Their next date is Nov. 12 at Charlotte, N.C.'s Tremont Music Hall.