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Five ABC board members in Baton Rogue violated attendance policy

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BATON ROUGE - More than half of the Alcohol Beverage Control board members for East Baton Rouge Parish were replaced Wednesday night because they violated the board's attendance policy. Five of the nine members had not attended at least 75 percent of the meetings in 2017 as is required.

The members had already been notified they were in danger of being replaced, but the violations were also highlighted by a club owner challenging the board for a decision they made earlier this year.

In late February, the ABC board denied a Florida Boulevard nightclub, XBIO, its permanent license after nearby residents in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood campaigned against it.

"I think [the residents] looked at me and determined I would go for a rowdy crowd. Their main concerns were I would have fights and shootings," said XBIO's owner Chad Bailey.

The club opened in early January on a temporary permit, renovating a decades-old bar in the same location. Bailey catered to Baton Rouge's growing Latino community, hoping to capitalize on an under-developed niche in the region's nightlife.

The owner's lawyer, Kris Perret, said XBIO had not been cited for any violations and was up to code when the permanent license was denied. Perret said in his history as a former ABC board member, he was not aware of a venue in good standing being denied a permanent license and believes it sends a chilly message to other would-be investors.

Residents in Sherwood Forest who wished to remain anonymous said they should have the right to protest the opening of a new bar even after investments are in place.

Perret filed suit to appeal the ABC decision, in which he argued attendance violations among the majority of board members invalidated their ruling. He said a judge ordered a new hearing in front of a properly constituted ABC board which will happen later this month.

At least one outgoing board member, Franz Borghardt, said he opened a new law firm last year and was unable to attend the required amount of meetings.

Staff for the EBR Metro-Council said replacing ABC members due to attendance violations is not uncommon. Appointees to the board serve as volunteers without compensation.

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