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Stripping the strip clubs

Jon Ferraro

Jon Ferraro

Milwaukee is in good company with other municipalities struggling with strip clubs.

The city is marketing vacant commercial space at 1118 N. Fourth St., and a strip club owner Jon Ferraro proposed opening his fourth Wisconsin club there. The only other proposal the city received by the November deadline was not as lucrative, so the Common Council awarded a 60-day extension to the deadline. That extension ran out earlier this month, and an alderman is proposing a second extension.

The city’s concerns about strip clubs are not unique.

Rather than overtly try to shut down its strip clubs, New York City has started denying them liquor licenses. A March 2 New York Times article describes the effectiveness of the city’s approach.

A cluster of four clubs, open two years ago, have shut down.

“And when there is no champagne in the champagne room,” according to the article, “the flow of revenue also dries up.”

In Houston, according to another New York Times article, this one from January, the city remains embroiled in a years-long battle with its strip clubs.

According to the article, a group of 16 clubs challenged a 1997 law that “regulated the clubs at a micro level,” banning, for example, topless lap dances and mandating the limits of how dim a club can be. The 16 clubs and the city reached a settlement, which permits dances but not darker rooms, but the city’s other clubs aren’t party to that agreement, which complicates enforcement.

In December in Athens, Ohio, a six-year battle to open the city’s first strip club was headed toward trial after three unsuccessful attempts to obtain zoning approval.

Washington state’s Clark County enacted a temporary ban on strip clubs this month, approving a 60-day suspension of the county’s authority to receive and process applications. According to an article in The Columbian, the county does not have any strip clubs and one has not been proposed, but it’s not sure where the authority rests for approving a club.

Milwaukee’s Public Works Committee is expected to vote on the second extension Wednesday. It’s not clear yet how much time the aldermen think the city still needs to find a tenant other than Jon Ferraro.

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