Nuns' Lawsuit: Strip Club Next to Convent Is a Nuisance
It's a classic battle: nuns versus strippers. A group of Illinois nuns are suing a neighboring strip club for being a public nuisance and for alleged violations of state law.
The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians allege that nearby Club Allure keeps them up at night with "blinking neon lights and loud thumping music," reports the Chicago Tribune.
Is this suit the premise for a new Whoopi Goldberg vehicle: "Sister Act 3: Sister's Brand New Suit"?
State Law Violation, Public Nuisance Alleged
Both Club Allure and the St. Charles convent are located in the tiny village of Stone Park, which U.S. Census data places at around 5,000 people. The nuns complain that Stone Park illegally rezoned the area next to the convent to allow Club Allure to move in, in violation of Illinois law regarding adult entertainment.
Illinois generally prohibits "adult entertainment facilities" (including strip clubs) to locate within 1,000 feet of a place of religious worship. However, when a city or village is located within Cook County, but outside of the city of Chicago, a new adult entertainment facility cannot be operated or constructed within one mile of any place of religious worship. Since Stone Park comprises only 0.34 square miles, this would essentially prohibit any strip clubs in Stone Park.
However, the nuns explicitly state in their lawsuit that they are seeking to enforce the narrower 1,000-foot buffer.
The Sisters also allege that the combination of leftover beer bottles, raucous noise, discarded condoms, and flashing lights make Club Allure a public nuisance. This sort of claim has been successful in shuttering other irksome businesses (if only temporarily) including a Sriracha sauce factory in Southern California.
Strip Club Won't Take Vow of Silence
Club Allure, owned by Get It Entertainment LLC, isn't taking this suit lying down. According to the Tribune, Get It was initially denied by the Stone Park village board when proposing a strip club. But village leaders changed their mind after Get It filed a lawsuit.
Stone Park's attorney defended the village's actions by explaining that the broader interpretation of the Illinois state law would violate the First Amendment. Courts have agreed that blanket bans on strip clubs are unconstitutional -- although some small towns have bitten the bullet and banned all businesses from opening shop.
It is now up to the Illinois court to decide whom to side with: the nuns or the strippers.
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