Crackdown in Belleville

Some bar owners worry that strict law enforcement could jeopardize their livelihoods

"I want to be on the same page as the bar owners," insists Ruebhausen. "Now, they can complain about me until Hell freezes over, but [illegal behavior] is not going to be tolerated. And if they don't get that, you know what? They're probably in the wrong business or the wrong town."

Belleville Main Street's Rick Ortiz says the city's dynamic is changing.

"Whenever you've got an increase in business that butts right up against residential, there's [complaints]. I don't think Belleville is saying, 'We don't want this.' I think it's just the opposite."

As for Neal Connors, he says the sting made him realize how vulnerable bar and club owners are. "I think what we're experiencing here is growing pains. Not everybody wants this [nightlife] scene. But people vote with their feet and most are saying, 'We like the fact that there's things to do after midnight. We want it to go as late as possible, in fact.'" Contact the author

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