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Commissioners take action to regulate bikini bars

by Dennis Sharkey

For the second time in less than a year Jefferson County Commissioners have approved a resolution aimed at stopping “sexually explicit” behavior at drinking establishments.

Before taking the action commissioners met in closed session for 10 minutes for attorney-client privilege.

After the meeting Oasis Saloon owner Zach Snyder nor his attorney Robert Duncan had any comment about what their actions would be next. However, on Monday and over the last two weeks Duncan has insinuated that legal action would be taken.

The primary focus of the resolution approved unanimously on Monday brings the “bikini-clad” employee into the regulations with nude and semi-nude dancers. Essentially the resolution bars “bikini-clad” employees from touching patrons and vice versa.

The regulations would also prohibit any club operator from “knowingly” allowing the behavior to occur.

However, there are also some other underlying changes that Snyder and Duncan objected to. Snyder sued the county last year over regulations that he says are designed to put him out of business.

Duncan took issue with the county’s definition of an alcohol beverage establishment. The regulation qualifies a drinking establishment as anywhere where alcohol is served within 50 feet.

Scott Bergthold, Chattanooga, Tenn., attorney hired by county commissioners, said that language was inserted to prevent a club owner from trying to split a building with alcohol on one side with adult entertainment on the other.

Duncan said at the meeting on Monday that the state statute that defines alcoholic establishments overrides the county’s definition.

Duncan also argued that Snyder has operated a SOB for more than 10 years just outside the county in Douglas County and that there is no proof of negative secondary effects.

“I would like you to give him 90 days to see what happens,” Duncan said. “If there’s no issues, you don’t need it and if it is you’re in a position to pass it.

“The legislature may preempt you,” he added.

Bergthold said that courts have upheld regulations that prohibit SOBs within 500 feet of a drinking establishment.

“I’m not terribly concerned about that,” Bergthold said.

He also said that the regulations supplement state statute and will stand.

First District Commissioner Lynn Luck took issue with Duncan saying last week that a Hooters Restaurant would not be allowed under these regulations.

She said she visited a Hooters over the weekend and said that the business would be allowed under these regulations.

“It was very nice,” Luck said. “The girls wear little outfits but they are very cute.”

She said that Snyder could have the same establishment in Meriden right now without the litigation and fighting.

“What you’re demanding is that there is sexual conduct,” Luck said. “Is the profit in the sexual conduct?”

Snyder disagreed and said that the county commissioners knew from the very beginning what type of business he was bringing to the county.

In an article published earlier this year former Economic Development Director Jim McGrath told the newspaper that Snyder “was not being coy” about what he was going to do. Snyder told Luck that he was encouraged to put his club at the location on K-4 Highway.

“I was up front and straight forward,” Snyder said on Monday. “I told them exactly what it was going to be.”

Snyder went on to say that he wants nothing to do with an “illegal business.”

“That’s not the kind of business I want to run,” he said.

Bergthold said that he has case law showing negative secondary effects in Kansas.

“If entertainment is simply dancing, there’s nothing in this (resolution) that talks about dancing,” he said. “They can dance.”

The regulations will not apply to Snyder’s club until 2013 because of a clause inserted in a settlement agreement reached between the county and Snyder in August.

In a separate matter commissioners voted unanimously to abate the taxes on a lift station that have been charged to Snyder. The lift station belongs to the city of Meriden.

In other actions:

• Commissioners also approved a resolution that rescinds a 1991 resolution that put a tax on land phone lines for 911. The resolution is replaced with a state statute that lowered the land line tax charge and added a mobile phone charge of $1.06 for every transaction.

• Commissioners approved the entering of a contract with a private company to provide cleaning services to nine county-owned buildings.

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Posted by on Dec 26 2011. Filed under County, County Commission, Government. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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