Strip club plans opposed

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Residents against allowing alcohol in proposed establishment pack Midway council meeting

By Alice Du Pont

It appears the repeal of Midway Ordinance 94-12, which would allow alcohol to be served in an adult entertainment establishment, will not become a reality if the reaction from citizens on the first reading during the July 11 regular meeting is any indication.

There was standing room only in the council chambers and most were there to voice their opposition to repealing the ordinance. Midway has had an ordinance since 1994 which allows for adult entertainment — but the sale of alcohol at such establishments is prohibited. 

A group of investors, represented by attorney Christopher O’Neal, requested, during the June regular council meeting, that the ordinance be repealed to allow for the sale of alcohol. Two public hearings are required to repeal an ordinance so members of the public can voice their opinions. 

While council members cannot take a vote until the regular August meeting, they listened to opinions of citizens for almost two hours. Most of the speakers were members of the clergy, but O’Neal spoke first on behalf of investors.

“Anyone can apply. The ordinance has been on the books since 2004,” he said, adding if the establishment cannot sell alcohol, it probably will not open.

That didn’t stop citizens like Ron Tyler from voicing their opinions to the council.

“I object to nudity, I personally object to alcohol and I object to Tallahassee coming over here with that filth,” he said. “They need to keep their filth in Tallahassee.”

Doug Stevens, pastor of Fellowship Church at Midway, presented a petition with 342 signatures of residents who objected to repealing the ordinance that would allow the sale of alcohol.

“It’s not just the strip club, but it’s also the combination of alcohol,” he said. “I’ve met only people who are against it. We (the church) bought the 10/90 Club and turned it into a place that will make people whole, where there were a lot of alcohol problems, and we’ve turned it around.”

Former County Commission Chairman and Midway resident Eugene Lamb said he had gotten calls from business owners who said they will move away from the 10/90 Industrial Park if a strip club is allowed to locate there.

“That type of business attracts the wrong kid of people. It’s a danger; it devalues the neighborhoods. If you let businesses like this come in, good businesses will not come. We will get the right types of businesses in here if we just be patient and have faith,” said Martha Koonce-Walker.

When the Rev. Charles Scrivens approached the podium wearing handcuffs, he said that from his experience in law enforcement, these businesses attract outsiders who bring with them a myriad of problems. The handcuffs, he said, were to illustrate how the city of Midway will be handcuffed to crime if the ordinances are repealed.

“Dogs and fleas go together; you can’t have one without the other,” he said.

Former Midway Council Member James Hinson said he has always been a fan of the “Andy Griffin Show,” and the council members should take the advice of the show’s co-star Barney Fife when he says “nip it, nip it, nip it in the bud.”

Letters from Paul’s Pest Control and AJAX Construction went to the city manager registering their opposition to locating an adult entertainment business in the park.

Council Member Delores Madison said she was glad to see so many ministers and citizens at the meeting to voice their opinions. Madison said she was opposed to the business and would vote against it on the second reading at the Aug. 1 meeting.

“Why should we put this one rotten apple in the barrel with other good businesses?” Madison asked.

Other commissioners expressed opposition to repealing the ordinance.

“It’s my personal opinion that this will not go any further given the climate here tonight,” O’Neal said concerning the future of the request to the sale of alcohol at the planned adult entertainment business.