The city will start cracking down on convenience stores that haven't obtained a permit to stay open between 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., city officials said Tuesday.
In response to citywide complaints from residents that convenience stores were staying open all night and causing problems — some criminal, some not — the city council unanimously passed an ordinance last May that a $100 city permit would be required to stay open 24 hours.
To obtain the permit, the store operator would need to show that certain security regulations were met.
"What we want them to do is to be an asset and not a detriment to the neighborhoods," said city council President Calixto Torres. "We need them to help us keep down the delinquent activity that many times is generated by some convenience stores that really don't have good handles and control of their operations."
"It's unsafe for them, it's unsafe for the community, and it's unsafe for their customers," said Torres, who joined with Mayor Eddie A. Perez and Assistant Council Majority Leader James Boucher in announcing the city will begin enforcing the ordinance.
Under the provisions, small- and mid-sized convenience stores and gas stations that want to stay open between 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. must have, among other things, security cameras, a silent alarm, a drop safe, and windows that allow clear and unobstructed views.
After the ordinance was adopted, the city developed procedures and informed convenience stores of the law. To date, 40 stores have applied to stay open; 22 have gotten the city's permission, 10 have not, and eight have decided just to close at night, the city said.
Aftab Ahmad's Select Food Mart on New Britain Avenue is open 24 hours, the owner said, to serve third-shift customers and allow employees to stock shelves and straighten up.
In his business, which he says can be dangerous, cameras and alarm systems are important, day or night, and are commonplace, he said.
"Everybody has them," he said.
What gets him is the $100 fee he'll have to pay each year.
"That's amazing," Ahmad said. "You have to pay a tax to stay open just for the convenience of people. That's a lot of money."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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