Township denies license transfer for strip club

Published 3:46 am Tuesday, May 6, 2003

By By JAN GRIFFEY /Niles Daily Star
NILES TOWNSHIP -- Niles Township trustees know their community has their back in their effort to oppose the opening of a topless club on South 11th Street.
An Elkhart, Ind., woman has applied to transfer a liquor license to a business she seeks to open at 2622 S. 11th St., Niles, which would feature topless dancing.
The Elkhart woman has not returned repeated telephone messages left at her home by the Niles Daily Star requesting comment from her.
More than 100 Niles Township area residents and others interested in the issue spilled into the hallway and out onto the front lawn of the township hall on Bell Road Monday night, far too many in attendance to fit into the township's meeting room.
Before the public participation portion of the meeting, the township's Jim Ringler, treasurer, introduced a motion to deny the transfer of the liquor license.
Ringler's motion was supported by township Trustee Richard Noble, and was approved unanimously by all on the township board.
Slagle said the "topless enterprise will serve liquor and tantalize local men and women into activities that cannot be legally fulfilled on the premises.
Slagle and others suggested the township enact some type of 90-day moratorium on the issuance of zoning permits while the township considers strengthening its ordinance as they relate to the establishment of adult businesses.
Joe Sergio of Niles, who operates a business located on the south side of South Bend, Ind., said he wondered years ago why you could buy a building on South Michigan Street for $5,000, but drive only five miles up the road to Roseland, where an acre of property costs $1 million.
Sergio said property values in the area of adult business, like those on South Michigan Street and the one proposed for Niles, suffer greatly. He presented to the township board several studies, one of which showed the effects of topless clubs on Phoenix, Ariz.
One neighborhood, he said, suffered a 1,000 percent increase in the reporting of sex offenses.
Niles Township Trustee Richard Noble said on May 1 and 2 he drove the distances between the location of the proposed topless club and several township churches, schools and parks.
Bob Cowen, who owns the Dairy Queen on South 11th Street just north of the state line, told the township board businesses in the area support them in opposing the topless club.
Byron Paulus, executive director of Life Action Ministries of Niles, said his organization is in the midst of building a new headquarters facility on Niles-Buchanan Road which will accommodate an additional 50 or so employees.
Akos Kovach, who said he owns land in Niles Township and has grandchildren here, applauded the township trustees' action Monday night, but warned the issue isn't done with.
In other business Monday night, the township board approved the hiring of Robert Ruff as a full-time firefighter.
The hiring of Ruff, initially recommended at the township's last meeting by its safety committee and Fire Chief Craig Lear, was turned down by a vote of four to three at that meeting. However, township Supervisor Bill Myers changed his vote and cast it for hiring Ruff Monday night.
Trustees Marge Durm-Hiatt, Richard Noble and Richard Cooper voted against hiring Ruff.