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Update: Controversial SkyZoo bar can stay open until 3 a.m. before next hearing

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UPDATE (October 19th):

We have learned that SkyZoo will be allowed to stay open until 3 a.m. until its next hearing.

A judge allowed the nightclub to remain open that long if it paid a fine of $2,500.

That comes after owners volunteered to give up their license and agreed to close earlier, and after the bar took legal action to get its license back.

Read our earlier coverage below, and depend on us to keep you posted.


A popular Lee Highway nightclub that promised the City of Chattanooga to change its operations after a deadly shooting earlier this year has now taken a different approach.

SkyZoo filed a "petition for writ of certiorari" against the City of Chattanooga after the city's Beer Board voted to revoke the bar's "Special Exceptions Permit".

According to the suit, "Petitioner [SkyZoo] avers that it has been harassed by the City of Chattanooga and has not been afforded a fair and impartial hearing."

Chattanooga City Council members unanimously voted to revoke a special exemption permit for SkyZoo bar to be a nightclub.

This comes after a deadly shooting outside the nightclub in late May.

On July 6, council members heard from the City Attorney, one of SkyZoo's owners, his lawyer, and Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy.

Now Skyzoo, which is owned by Sharky's Inc., filed the suit in Hamilton County Chancery Court. SkyZoo claims by revoking the Special Exceptions Permit it, "reduces both the hours he is permitted to do business and the number of patrons permitted on his premises" and will cause "irreparable harm."

According to the petition, SkyZoo claims the City of Chattanooga, "Is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad and its application interferes with and impairs the legal rights and privileges of Petitioner to operate as a nightclub."

According to Chief Roddy, in the last 365 days on a sliding scale, there were 36 disorder reports, 10 assault calls, and eight calls about incidents involving a firearm at the establishment.

Before the vote on July 6, Leo Dacoregio spoke with the council. He owns 50 percent of SkyZoo, and said he would voluntarily give up the special permit, as he wants to turn the nightclub into a sports bar.

"I don't want to be a nightclub anymore. I'm older. I want to go home and hang out to my kids. I don't want to die. You don't think I'm scared? I'm scared for my people, too," said Dacoregio.

"I'm giving my special exemptions zoning away, if that will help me be open and stop some of this violence. My concern is this: it's happening in Chattanooga, it's not going to disappear. They don't come to my place, they'll go where? You think they just going to vanish? They gonna keep doing it," the owner said.

Dacoregio says he has worked with police officers in the May shooting investigation and other incidents.

Despite what this body do today, Mr. Leo, you are not on trial today - the City of Chattanooga is," said Councilman Anthony Byrd.

Nearby businesses say they have seen some improvement since the business decreased their capacity and are closing earlier.

"Of course our business was always closed when they park over here, but there was always trash all over the place. And when we would come back in to work on Monday, it would be a mess and we had to clean up

We've uncovered that the business will only allow 99 people inside SkyZoo and have changed with closing time from 3 am to 2:30 am.

RELATED: Can a Chattanooga nightclub make customers safer? Beer Board members express doubts


In a now deleted Facebook post back in July, SkyZoo posted the following:

It's a new day here at Skyzoo!

As we open up shortly at 6pm, we wanted to share some things with you!

As of today, we have updated our age requirement for entry into our Sports Bar. The new minimum age to enter our facility is 25 and up! (With an exemption for registered Billiard & Pool league players)

We have also already removed our dance floor, stage, and DJ booth, and are officially now a Sports Bar! Physically our facility also has a few more changes coming, so it is our hope that you adapt with us in the coming days as we upgrade the experience we have for you!

Another notable change, for more assurance of safety being our top priority, we have added a unique and innovative security camera system from the inside out, as well as our joining the Dragonfly partnership program with the Chattanooga Police Department!

This innovative tool & preventative measure provides 24/7 live access directly to our security cameras that we have on site, at all times to the Chattanooga Police department (and/or specific Police Officers) for added assurance, and proof that we value the accountability required to maintain a safe atmosphere just for you, our beloved customer! (FOR MORE INFO:

We are EXCITED to polish up this new vision moving forward for our Skyzoo family!

Stay tuned for more updates as we move forward in this new era, and it is our hope that you believe in us, as we certainly do you!

We thank you all for your understanding, supportive messages and words, and commitment to your trust in us as we will always remain the place with EVERYTHING you need, under ONE roof!

- Your family at SkyZoo Chattanooga

The City of Chattanooga responded to the petition.

RELATED: City Council votes to revoke nightclub permit for SkyZoo, owner wants to make sports bar

They admit the allegations of the Petition regarding the action taken by the City Council at the conclusion of the hearing as authorized under Chattanooga City Code 38- 567, noting that Mr. Dacoregio testified to the City Council during the hearing that he was voluntarily giving his special exceptions permit back because he wanted to turn the nightclub into a sports bar.

The City also denies that any action taken by the Chattanooga City Council in the revocation or acceptance of the surrender of SkyZoo's special exception permit to operate a late night events. They say this was not "action taken by a local government against a small business that is subject to the provisions of the " Equal Access to Justice Act of1984.""

The City would "submit that to the extent that this litigation was made in bad faith or was frivolous or was made for the sole basis of harassment, this Court may impose a fine on SkyZoo in connection with the filing of this action as authorized under Tenn. Code Ann. 29- 37- 106."

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We reached out to city attorney Emily ODonnell. She says, "I am not able to discuss the pending litigation at this time."

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