Lap dances are out. Booze remains. And neighbors and pastors are peeved at the City Council for approving compromised regulations on the city’s 31 strip clubs.
After nearly three years of delays, packed hearings and lawsuits, the City Council voted 6-3 on Tuesday to approve restrictions that left neither side in the contentious debate happy — especially the religious community.
“Detroit deserves better,” said the Rev. Marvin Winans of Perfecting Church, who led the fight for tougher rules. He promised to continue the fight but didn’t elaborate. “The people are going to have the last word.”
The rules would outlaw VIP rooms, touching between strippers and patrons, require licenses for most employees, limit dancers to 18-inch tall stages and bar new clubs from opening on Eight Mile. But the council shelved proposals from last year that would have required dancers to wear opaque pasties and outlaw alcohol at the club.
Even so, the adult industry said the new rules would hurt the clubs that employ 6,800 workers and generate some $3 million a year in property taxes to the city.
“We will do our best to live within the restrictions,” said Larry Kaplan, executive director of the Association of Club Executives, who wouldn’t say whether they plan to challenge the rules in court.
Mayor Dave Bing has a week to veto the changes. His office released a statement Tuesday saying, “We are sensitive to and respectful of both sides, and pleased there was a timely resolution.” The regulations would take effect as soon as they are published, in about a week or so.
Winans on Tuesday said he received a call of encouragement from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who served as the county’s prosecutor in the 1970s and built a reputation for driving out adult businesses. The county has no topless clubs. Detroit had 95 in 1982 before the city began to heavily regulate them.
A federal judge struck down parts of the ordinance in 2007, sparking the debate about the new rules.
The vote comes one day after more than 500 people — most of whom favored tougher restrictions — attended a 3 ½ hour public hearing.
Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr. said he never saw so many residents at a hearing in that City Council auditorium and wished residents had the same kind of passion about other issues such as homelessness and joblessness.
“Where is that outrage about a young girl being raped on the way to school?” Cockrel asked. “We have bigger fish to fry. Let’s get passionate about that stuff.”
Cockrel supported the changes along with new members President Charles Pugh, President Pro Tem Gary Brown, Saunteel Jenkins, Andre Spivey and James Tate. They were opposed by Kwame Kenyatta, JoAnn Watson and Brenda Jones, who were re-elected in November. The council unanimously approved zoning changes governing where new clubs could open up. Spivey, who is a pastor, took heat from fellow clergy but said the alcohol ban would have gone too far. “I am not here to bring back prohibition,” Spivey said.
Also Tuesday, the council unanimously approved paying $18,750 to Mike Dabish, a business owner who wanted to build a strip club on the site of a former go-cart track on Eight Mile. He sued in 2008 after the city denied a permit even though the area was zoned industrial, a designation under which he could have opened.
The city has paid out a combined $665,000 to two other strip clubs who sued over city regulations since 2007. Other suits are pending.
Source: Detroit News