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Sheriff, commissioners want rezone for Da Pond
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      A nightclub location with a troubled past will likely be rezoned to prohibit use for large gatherings and public events after Bulloch County Commissioners voted Thursday to return a Club Road parcel to Ag 5 zoning.
      After a recent illegal alcohol sales sting, which followed a similar raid at the same location in 2005, Bulloch County Sheriff’s deputies, Georgia Department of Revenue agents and Georgia State Patrol troopers shut down “Da Pond,” a nightclub operating on property owned by Carol Bellinger and managed by her sister, Annie Bellinger.
      Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson and state revenue agent Ron Huckaby gave commissioners a Powerpoint presentation during Thursday’s meeting, showing the scene at “Da Pond,” including several bottles of alcohol that were sealed as well as opened containers of alcohol.
      Anderson said an undercover agent purchased alcohol three different times, using marked money, from people at the club.  Huckaby told commissioners one of the suspects arrested made statements that Annie Bellinger had been present at the club during some of the times alcohol was being sold or provided “ in a weak” mixture as part of a free benefit included in the cover charge.
      While at the facility the night of the raid, Bellinger told the Statesboro Herald tenants were paying her $400 a night to use the block building. The lease they signed specified no alcoholic beverages would be permitted, as did wording in the county agreement allowing a conditional use of the property for gatherings and parties.
      Zoning Administrator Randy Newman said the conditional use permit stated “no alcoholic beverages would be allowed on the property at any time.”
      Huckaby told commissioners the investigation began after several complaints from neighbors as well as parents of an underage person who admitted getting very intoxicated, then very ill after obtaining alcohol at “Da Pond.”
      Four were arrested for illegal alcohol sales – selling without a license, he said.
      The club had never registered as a business, had no business license and was not paying sales tax either, he said.
      Comissioner Roy Thompson asked “You didn’t find a birthday cake there, did you?” He explained his question by stating the reason given for the conditional use request included having birthday parties and events for children.
      Anderson showed images of fliers distributed, advertising adult gatherings at the club including live music and dancers.
      “I’ve done some homework on this and would like to put this to bed,” Thompson said.
      Anderson said “This is déjà vu for me,” reminding commissioners that in 2005, an establishment called “Club Pond” at the same location, was closed down for similar reasons, although the operator was a different person than the one operating  Da Pond. “Different people, same place, same owners.”
      Annie Bellinger was present during the meeting Thursday, but did not speak.
      Thompson moved to revoke the conditional use zoning of the property from General Community to Ag 5, and commissioners agreed unanimously to take the matter to the zoning commission for action.
      Ag 5 allows the following: churches, nursery, garden center, farm supply stores, kennels, ponds, wildlife preserves or animal sanctuaries as well as residential and agricultural uses.

       Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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