The Forest Park City Council, recently, tabled a request for alcohol licenses from two closed businesses formerly operating as Clayton County’s only strip clubs.
City Attorney Joe Harris advised the council to table the requests from Pink Pony South and Crazy Horse Saloon, following a lengthy closed session during the regular first Monday meeting.
“There are a lot of things I need to do to get ready for this,” said Harris.
The council meets again in regular session March 19.
City Manager John Parker seemed surprised to see the requests because he declined to renew the clubs’ business licenses following a Jan. 3 hearing.
“But anyone can make the request,” said Parker. “It is up to the council to approve it, or not.”
Following a two-day hearing in November, a compliance officer ordered that the clubs’ business and alcohol license be revoked. The decision was based on testimony and evidence showing flagrant and blatant violations of the city’s code inside both clubs. The bulk of the evidence was found on the clubs’ own surveillance cameras.
Following Parker’s denials in January, attorneys for the clubs owner, Jack Galardi, filed a $15 million civil lawsuit against Forest Park in U.S. District Court. The suit accuses the city of selective prosecution and orchestrating an elaborate, bureaucratic scheme designed to shut down the businesses.
In March 2009, the city council revised the adult entertainment ordinance to ban the sale of alcohol at businesses that offer nude dancing. The revision also banned the use of any booths inside the clubs.
“The restrictions substantially diminished the value of the Businesses and the Properties,” alleges the complaint.
In January 2011, the businesses began operating as “bikini bars,” so alcohol continued to be sold inside the clubs. At the same time, allege attorneys for Galardi, the city began “selectively and aggressively enforcing sections of the “alcohol code” against the businesses.
Parker said the city will file an answer to the complaint soon.
During Monday night’s meeting, clubs’ attorney, Simon Bloom, told the council he hoped differences between the businesses and the city could be resolved.
“I am new to this fray, and I extend my sincere effort to resolve this,” said Bloom. “The only ones making money are the lawyers. The city is not enjoying the tax revenues from these two businesses while they are closed. I don’t want to see the litigation continue. I don’t need the work. If each side comes a little bit toward the middle, I’m very open to arrive at a compromise.”
No one on the council commented on Bloom’s statement. However, Forest Park resident, Roy Lunsford, reiterated his support of the clubs during the public comments’ portion of the meeting.
“Closing these businesses doesn’t improve anything in the city,” said Lunsford. “Are you proud? Let them get back to their jobs. This has gone on long enough, it costs too much to continue.”
Bloom said the closures put 200-250 employees out of work.
Harris told Bloom that he will be given time to plead his case in favor of alcohol licenses for the clubs when the request comes up for discussion March 19.