01/20/06 — Judge orders club closed

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Judge orders club closed

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on January 20, 2006 1:50 PM

A nightclub in eastern Wayne County has been permanently closed after a judge signed a consent order in Wayne County Superior Court this week.

Judge W. Allen Cobb of Wilmington signed the order Tuesday against The Doll House at U.S. 70 East near its intersection with Beston Road.

The settlement "will stop the problems at this location forever," District Attorney Branny Vickory said. "This case was successful because of efforts by our team members, and together we have written the last chapter at a place with a sordid history."

The business had been closed in December 2004 after a temporary injunction was issued by Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell of Goldsboro.

Vickory had filed a civil nuisance abatement lawsuit against The Doll House. He said he filed the complaint "in an effort to be responsive to citizen complaints. The illegal activities at this business were a detriment to the community."

Sheriff Carey Winders said deputies, Goldsboro police and state Alcohol Law Enforcement Division officers conducted an investigation of the business that they said had resulted in numerous solicitations for prostitution.

The property is owned by William Zehnder, who had leased it to Andy L. Howard of Mill Run Place. Howard had owned and operated The Doll House.

Winders said his office "tried to work with the property owner to solve these problems; however, our efforts were unsuccessful. This action was the last resort for us."

Under the terms of the judgment, Zehnder must terminate immediately the lease with Howard, and The Doll House must be shut down for good. Judge Cobb also ordered that no one can engage in nuisance-related activities on the property, regardless of who owns it.

Howard and Zehnder were ordered to pay more than $14,900 in court costs.

Vickory said the judgment demonstrated "how a community can work together and solve problems." He thanked the Sheriff's Office, prosecuting lawyer Ronald Lawrence and neighboring residents for their asssistance.

The N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement Division coordinated information for the lawsuit with Lawrence at the request of the Sheriff's Office.

"This nuisance abatement law provides a tool that local communities can use to stop nuisances for good. There is no reason for a nuisance like this to continue in our communities," Winders said.

The public nuisance abatement case was the second undertaken by the District Attorney's Office in Wayne County. In 2002, a similar action shut down a John Street bar in Goldsboro after complaints about numerous violations of law.