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|Pole dancing in the Garden District?|
The Monroe City Council granted a liquor license to Safari Gentlemen's Club in spite of concerns that the establishment would become a strip bar.
Action was taken Tuesday during the city council's regular meeting.
City attorney Nanci Summersgill said the club's owner met all requirements to be granted a liquor license. The lounge would be located at 812 N. 3rd St. near Louisville Avenue across from the Blue Monkey Tavern.
"It is my understanding that if they meet the qualifying records, we need to approve the liquor license regardless if we condone the type of business it is," councilman Jay Marx said.
After several minutes of debate, the council voted 3-2 to approve the liquor license. Councilmen Ben Katz and Arthur Gilmore voted against the measure.
Following the vote, numerous members in the audience silently filed out of the city council chambers.
Summersgill told the city council that "there's nothing that makes the type of operation he wants to have illegal."
"We, of course, have obscenity laws, which are on the books, which will be enforced," Summersgill said.
Joanne Poret, Monroe's planning and zoning director, said the city's current ordinance does not contain any language that addresses the regulation of adult uses.
"I was hoping we could do some kind of moratorium on this issue, so we could get something on the books to regulate this activity within the city limits," Poret said. "This will not be the last one. We have the right to regulate what goes on in our city limits."
Summersgill added, "We've had this issue come up with adult bookstores, and it's very hard to absolutely prohibit something like that."
"I think what you would have to do is come up with an ordinance that allows those types of establishments in certain areas," she said.
Summersgill also suggested the ordinance limit the number of these establishments.
"I would bring to the council's attention that there is an establishment that is gearing up to operate down on the river," she said. "It would be a gentleman's nightclub, and upstairs, there would be pole dancing, and that kind of stuff. These things are going to come up, and we might do better to limit the number of these establishments."
If the city adopts an ordinance prohibiting "this type of dancing" within the city limits, according to Summersgill, Safari Gentlemen's Club would be grandfathered in and allowed to remain open.
"You can certainly grant the license to operate as a lounge, and if there's something obscene and illegal going on, you have a right to close it down," she said.
Gilmore told the council, "There's no illusion what this club will be. It's going to be a strip club. I have no problem giving him a license as a lounge, but he cannot have adult activity going on at that lounge. That is my position. But the truth of the matter is it's going to be a strip joint."
Poret said if the owner applied for a certificate of occupancy as a lounge and it's not being used for that purpose, the city could revoke the owner's certificate of occupancy.
Councilman Robert Johnson said, "If they make it a strip club, then they violate the law, and we shut them down. It's as simple as that."