Music lovers are fighting to keep “Gip’s Place” juke joint open. - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Music lovers are fighting to keep “Gip’s Place” juke joint open.

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BESSEMER - AL -

"Gip's Place isn't just a shed in Gip Gipson's backyard, it's a golden treasure" says Melanie Jeffcoat.

But Gipson has no business license and this weekend police shut down the musician's party Saturday night because of complaints from neighbors. Neighbors say noise and litter is out of hand and some patrons are urinating on their property.

This is a statement released from Bessemer City Hall:

"On the evening of May 4, 2013, the Bessemer Police Department was forced to close Gip's Place, 3101 Avenue C.

Our decision has caused quite a bit of controversy, so we thought it necessary to explain to residents of Bessemer and Mr. Gipson's supporters the reasoning behind our move to close the establishment.  

For more than a year, the city of Bessemer has attempted to work with Mr. Gipson to ensure that his establishment met all legal requirements.

City laws require that any business in our city have the proper zoning to operate in the area in which it is located. Mr. Gipson's business, despite its popularity, is not exempt. It was operating as a business in a neighborhood that is zoned strictly for residential use.  

The establishment has caused quite a bit of problems for the homeowners who are neighbors of Mr. Gipson. Many of these homeowners are elderly.

We have received multiple calls from homeowners over the last several months who say loud music from Gip's Place has inhibited their ability to sleep.

Several residents even complained of seeing people relieving themselves in yards and along the roadway. Others complained to us of traffic congestion and litter.

We have continuously appealed to Mr. Gipson and his associates to acquire the proper zoning and licensing. We also explained our willingness to work with him to resolve any matters as they pertain to meeting city legal requirements.

Unfortunately, our appeals were not met with the proper response. We feel it is necessary to close the establishment to ensure that the rights and wishes of the homeowners are being respected.

We are aware of the popularity of Mr. Gipson and his establishment, but we must balance whatever fame his establishment has accumulated with the rights of Mr. Gipson's neighbors. We also cannot allow Mr. Gipson to operate outside of our laws while requiring other businesses within our city to operate by the same laws.  

Should Mr. Gipson and his associates wish to take the necessary steps to re-open his establishment, the Mayor's Office and the employees of City Hall are willing to work with them, as we do with other businesses. This would include the process of securing the necessary zoning through our various zoning boards, all the necessary licensing to open lawfully or by finding a new location within our city more suitable for such activities.

Until such time, we must respect the rights of the homeowners and ask Mr. Gipson to remain closed."

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Gipson says, "I been here for over 50 years doing this, why is it just now? I'm not about to get no license, that's for sure."

Bessemer Police Chief Deputy Michael Roper says, "We've got to weigh all the residents that live there.  They got to sleep, they got to get up and go to church. They got to go to work and it's not fair to the residents to have to put up with that."

Gipson and many of his supporters plan to attend the Bessemer city council meeting Tuesday night to address the shutdown.

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