Strip club gets boost from GJ City Council

A proposal to open a strip club in Grand Junction gained ground Wednesday night after the City Council ordered the Planning Commission to reconsider a conditional-use permit for the business.

Council members unanimously agreed to remand the permit application for the club at 2258 Colex Drive back to planning commissioners.

Representatives for the topless bar’s would-be owner, Kevin Eardley, had appealed the Planning Commission’s Aug. 12 rejection of the conditional-use permit, alleging the commission allowed its distaste for the club to guide its decision rather than a strict reading of the city’s zoning code.

Specifically, advocates for the club objected to some planning commissioners defining a neighborhood as the entire city in their argument that the business would be incompatible with the neighborhood.

Council members concurred the broad definition was inappropriate and directed planning commissioners to narrow their interpretation.

“It’s not the neighborhood of Grand Junction. It’s the city of Grand Junction, made up of several neighborhoods,” Councilman Bruce Hill said.

City Attorney John Shaver, who acted as the counsel for the Planning Commission when he previously served as the assistant city attorney, said he has never seen such an expansive definition of a neighborhood.

“It’s the first time in my experience that the city has been described as a neighborhood,” he said.

Councilwoman Teresa Coons said regardless of her personal feelings about a strip club, the council needed to be sure it was following city codes in rendering a decision.

Dozens of local residents have written letters to the city asking it to reject the strip club on moral grounds, alleging it would lead to a boost in crime and cause other problems.

But Shaver said outlawing the club would generate a constitutional challenge, noting the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “certain expressive types of entertainment,” including topless bars, are protected as free speech under the First Amendment.

The city’s standards for adult-entertainment businesses set out a strict set of criteria those businesses must meet, including being at least 1,000 feet away from churches, schools, residential-zoned property and other land uses.

City senior planner Senta Costello noted the reason the club requires a conditional-use permit is because it will sell alcohol, not because of the type of business it is. Without the alcohol sales, the club could be approved administratively, she said.


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