City board OKs permit for strip club

Grand Junction Planning Commissioner William Putnam, third from left, argues for approval of the strip club as, from left, Patrick Carlow, Reginald Wall and Roland Cole listen

A proposal to open a strip club in northwest Grand Junction took a major step forward Tuesday night after the Grand Junction Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit to allow alcohol service.

Planning commissioners voted 4-2 to grant the permit to local businessman Kevin Eardley, who is seeking to build a club at 2258 Colex Drive. The site is on industrially zoned land near the intersection of G Road and U.S. Highway 6&50.

Commission Chairman Roland Cole and commissioners Patrick Carlow, Ebe Eslami and William Putnam voted in favor of the permit. Commissioners Mark Abbott and Reginald Wall voted against it. Commissioner Lynn Pavelka-Zarkesh was absent.

The permit approval came after the Planning Commission rejected the permit twice before, only to have the City Council order the board to reconsider because it either didn’t follow the city’s zoning code or provide enough evidence for its decision.

The decision prompted applause, cheers and hugs in the back of the City Hall auditorium and outside in the hallway from club proponents. Some of them appeared at the meeting with a stack of pink signs expressing support for the adult-entertainment aspect of the club.

“Cooler heads prevailed,” said Rob Rowlands, an architect for the project and a representative for Eardley. “We met the code. The commission finally came around to the fact that we met the code. They had to vote that way.”

Opponents said they were disappointed, with Mike MacFarlane, pastor at New Day Ministries and one of the most vocal dissenters, lamenting the decision proved “you beat on a door long enough, it will open.

“Apparently that was the strategy of the club, and I see that it has worked.”

Roughly 50 people attended the hearing, with a little more than half of them indicating they opposed allowing the club to serve alcohol.

In addition to those who have objected to the club on moral grounds, opponents have contended the club will negatively affect surrounding businesses.

Supporters, on the other hand, have noted city codes allow alcohol to be served in industrial zones with a permit and topless bars to operate within the city as long as they are not within 1,000 feet of certain land uses.

Wall said he believes a bar opening in the area would be detrimental to the neighborhood.

Abbott said even though the application for the permit calls for the club to be open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., he is concerned Eardley will seek to open the business at 11 a.m. He said alcohol service would allow people who work in the area to more easily avoid law-enforcement detection by walking to the club, drinking and potentially return to work and create problems.

Eslami, though, said he thinks people would drink illegally inside and outside the bar even without the conditional-use permit. And he believes if the commission rejected the permit and the issue ended up in court, a judge would grant the permit, anyway.

Putnam noted the Planning Commission last month approved a conditional-use permit for a bar and grill at 25th Street and North Avenue without any discussion, even though several homes and businesses are located in the area.

“Speculation about dire consequences of adult entertainment and alcoholic beverage consumption is not proper grounds for Planning Commission actions,” Putnam said. “And certainly no credible evidence has been presented to conclude that public consumption of alcohol beverages will result in more undesirable drunken behavior in industrial zones than in business or commercial areas.”

Eardley must now apply for a liquor license from the city. Rowlands said he anticipates construction will begin on the club in five months.


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