Janesville28.2°

Nude club still possible for Janesville

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
July 20, 2008
— Janesville’s only strip club is now defunct.

But that doesn’t mean someone else couldn’t start a new one in the city.


The city council enacted an ordinance to regulate “adult entertainment” after Screamin’ MeeMees was established in December 2001.


That ordinance still is in effect.


Federal law and court decisions don’t allow a city to ban stripping or nude dancing, but the ordinance was intended to be as strict as possible, City Manager Steve Sheiffer said.


Could it be stricter?


Sheiffer said Wednesday he would ask the city attorney to review the ordinance and answer that question.


If it can be stricter, Sheiffer would submit a proposal to the city council.


“I don’t want places like Screamin’ MeeMees in Janesville. I don’t think it’s good for community,” Sheiffer said.


The nightclub featured nude, dancing women but no alcohol, so anyone age 18 or older could enter.


License holder Rebecca Halbach relinquished her license for Screamin’ MeeMees last Friday.


Rebecca’s husband, Jim Halbach, was arrested June 30 on 12 felony charges of keeping a place of prostitution and one misdemeanor charge of prostitution in connection with an ongoing investigation.


The Halbachs have denied any wrongdoing.


“We’re taking that as a full relinquishment,” so the Halbachs could not reopen Screamin’ MeeMee’s, City Attorney Wald Klimczyk said.


But someone else could buy the club at 402 W. Delavan Drive, apply for an adult entertainment license, and open a strip club there, as long as that happens within the next 12 months, Klimczyk said.


The ordinance forbids nudity or even topless dancing in establishments that serve alcohol.


The ordinance also restricts where such an establishment may be located. They are allowed only in areas zoned B4. But even within a B4 district, further restrictions apply.


The ordinance forbids an establishment featuring nudity or partial nudity within 1,000 feet of a residence, a church, other adult-oriented establishments, youth entertainment centers or any place with an alcohol license, Klimczyk said.


Those restrictions narrow the options to very few properties in two areas:


-- Along Highway 11/14 east of Interstate 90/39.


-- Along portions of Milton Avenue and Highway 14 near where those roads intersect.


The Hhffrrrggh Inn could qualify under the ordinance if it stopped serving alcohol and started featuring nude dancers, but a club built next to Hhffrrrggh would not be allowed because Hhffrrrggh serves alcohol, for example, Klimczyk said.


Screamin’ MeeMees was established before the ordinance was passed, so its location in B2 zoning is allowed as a noncomforming but permitted use, Klimczyk said.


All the owner would need to do would be to apply for an adult entertainment license, which costs $700 the first year and $150 for each annual renewal.


City council member Russ Steeber said he is open to making the ordinance stricter, if possible.


“If they (Screamin’ MeeMees) are gone, inevitably somebody will try to get a permit for it, and I think the city of Janesville kind of has expressed displeasure for that style of establishment,” Steeber said.


CORRECTION:


Hhffrrrggh could not be strip club

An article on Page 3A on Sunday contained an incorrect statement about the Hhffrrrggh Inn, 731 S. Wuthering Hills Drive, Janesville.


City attorney Wald Klimczyk used the tavern as an example when explaining when a property might be used as an adult entertainment establishment in a B4-zoned area. Klimczyk did not realize that Hhffrrrggh cannot be converted into a nude dancing club because a deed restriction imposed by the city forbids such a use.


Coincidentally, Hhffrrrggh is closed for renovations, and the owners want to assure the public that Hffrrrggh will reopen as a bar/restaurant. Renovations will remove walls between the restaurant and bar so that both can be smoke-free. People will be allowed to smoke on a new outdoor patio. A tentative reopening date is July 31.



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