Town Residents Rally Against New Strip Club

Nikki Tang
ZUMBRO FALLS, Minn. — Residents of Zumbro Falls, Minn., rallied against a strip club that opened late last week, inspiring city council to revise existing regulations for adult entertainment businesses at a meeting Wednesday.

City council members object to the opening of the Pussycat Cabaret on the grounds that it opened without the required city permits and is breaking several state laws governing adult-oriented businesses.

According to state law, adult businesses cannot be located within 500 feet of a residential property, within 1,500 feet of another adult business or within 2,800 feet of a school or place of worship.

The Pussycat Cabaret is reported to be in violation of two of these laws since it is within the boundary limits of a church and a residential property.

State law also requires adult businesses to submit notices of intent to their local governments at least 60 days prior to applying for the necessary permits. The local government then has the right to deny the permit request if the proposed business is located within 50 miles of another adult business, or if it violates any of the other zoning laws.

Club owner Shakiba DeWitz opened the business without a permit because he and his attorney, Randall Tigue, are in the middle of a lawsuit against the city, claiming the ordinances on adult entertainment establishments are in violation of both the First and the 14th Amendments.

“These laws are unconstitutional,” Tigue said, “and the U.S. Supreme Court says where a law violates the First Amendment, you have a right to ignore it.”

On behalf of the club, Tigue filed a motion Friday requesting a temporary restraining order that would bar the city from enforcing local and state laws against the club until the lawsuit had been resolved. The motion was denied, and at the city council meeting, many such laws were revised.

According to the revisions, all forms of public nudity are now prohibited, and a moratorium on all adult businesses has been passed to give the city time to figure out where they would be allowed to open.

“We’re trying to make this as solid as we can,” said Mayor Alan VanDeWalker, who added that the city stands firmly against the Pussycat Cabaret. “We don’t want to fumble on this.”

In addition to legal protest, town residents have also voiced social concerns about the club, saying it would have a negative affect on their community.

“Nobody can tell me that where there’s a strip club there’s not prostitution,” said resident John Reese, who added that he moved to Zumbro Falls from Minneapolis to escape what fellow resident Bucky Adams called “that type of crowd.”

Concerns about the possible decrease in property values and compromised safety of children were also expressed.

Tigue, a veteran legal defender of adult entertainment businesses, said these businesses have a positive affect on their communities, and that “anything to the contrary is as big a lie as the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”