The Club 76 owner says trustees shouldn't treat his business differently from other township bars.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Township trustees are thinking about making it more expensive and complicated for strippers to take their clothes off onstage.
Tonight, trustees are expected to take a first reading of a resolution that would require strippers and other strip club employees to get a license to work in the township.
Employees would have to pay $100 and pass a background check to prove they haven't been convicted of a sex crime before they receive a license.
The first reading will be during the trustee meeting at 7 p.m. in the township building. Two readings are needed before the resolution can pass.
Tonight's meeting also will feature a presentation by Alan Weinstein, professor of law and urban studies at Cleveland State University. Weinstein worked with Boardman Township officials to create their adult-business regulations.
The resolution also would require strip club owners to have a license to operate in the township. Owners would have to pay $350 and pass a background check to get a license.
Licenses for owners and employees would have to be renewed each year. The township zoning inspector would be responsible for issuing the licenses.
Austintown is home to two strip clubs: The Babylon on Javit Court and Club 76 on Seventy-six Drive. Trustee Bo Pritchard said trustees haven't decided whether the licensing requirements will affect all strip clubs in the township or only strip clubs that open after the resolution is approved.
Pritchard added that the trustees may change the resolution before the second reading. He stressed that trustees want to use the resolution to ensure that strip clubs have a "minimal impact" on township residents.
The resolution cites studies stating that strip clubs can have "negative secondary effects, such as increased crime rates, decreased property values, curtailed retail trade and the deterioration of the quality of urban life."
Pritchard said he feels trustees would ban the clubs if permitted under the state constitution.
Club 76 owner Anthony Beshara said he most likely will talk to his attorney about the resolution. Beshara said trustees shouldn't treat his business differently than other bars in the township.
"If they want to license all the bars in town, I'm sure there wouldn't be a problem with it," he said. "We're no different from any other bar or restaurant, except for the entertainment."
In March, Beshara and Babylon owner Nick Ellinos won a federal court decision that struck down a section of the township zoning code requiring strip club owners to obtain a conditional-use permit to operate.
Magistrate George J. Limbert of U.S. District Court, Youngstown, ruled the section was too vague and gave the township too much latitude to determine which businesses can operate in the township.
In addition to the strip club requirements, township officials are trying to create new zoning regulations that would restrict adult business to only two areas of the township: near the intersections of state Route 46 and Interstate 80 and Meridian Road and Interstate 80.
Township Zoning Inspector Michael Kurilla Jr. expects the Mahoning County Planning Commission to discuss the regulations at its meeting Sept. 24.