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Scottsdale at odds with club over fire-code violations

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s been going on for two years.

The Scottsdale Fire Department is in an ongoing battle with the city’s only after-hours nightclub.

Fire investigators think the owner of Club Afterlife is guilty of several code violations.

“His club has an occupancy level of over 300,” said Scottsdale Fire Marshal Jim Ford. “He didn’t have the proper exiting or panic hardware on the doors which is required of a club that large.”

Ford said that is just one of the problems the city has found at the club. In 2011, the club’s managing partner, Aron Mezo, was convicted of two counts involving consumption of alcohol at the club, which does not have a liquor license. He was sentenced to two years probation, and 30 days in jail. Mezo appealed that conviction.

In 2010, Mezo was convicted of five civil fire-code violations, and sentenced to one year probation. Mezo was required to fix all of the code violations as part of that probation.

Earlier this month, the court found that he violated that probation, and he’s now been ordered to comply with the fire code withing 60 days. The club is set for a review in August.

Mezo contends that many of the fixes that the city is ordering be corrected have been in the club since the building near Indian School Road and Drinkwater Boulevard was built seven years ago. It has passed several inspections without inspectors saying anything.

Mezo has a theory what’s behind his troubles: because he does not have a liquor license, there are fewer regulations on the time that he can operate his business. Without a liquor license, Mezo can stay open later than the 2 a.m. closing time that bars have to observe, making him an after-hours club. He claimed the city is upset about that.

“We’ve essentially found a loophole to stay open past two, and have a later night-type of business,” said Mezo. “I know the city. With its conservative viewpoint, the city frowns on businesses that tend to be open later at night.”

Ford said fire crews are not trying to shut the club down, they’re only trying to make it safe. They plan another inspection of the club on Friday night.

Mezo said he’ll sue the city if the harassment doesn’t stop.