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Northeast Indiana city fighting plans for strip club

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 11:29 am

ANGOLA — A northeastern Indiana city bracing for a possible federal lawsuit challenging its efforts to block a developer's planned strip club has set aside $100,000 for its legal costs.

The Angola Common Council on Monday authorized appropriating $100,000 from the city's general fund to the common council for its legal fight over the proposed Showgirls strip club.

Clerk-Treasurer Deb Twitchell said the city has paid Chattanooga, Tenn. attorney Scott Bergthold, who specializes in sexually oriented business litigation, about $28,000 to date for representing the city in its fight. That amount is nearly 30 percent of the appropriation approved on Monday.

Alva Butler, who owns and operates the Showgirl III in Fort Wayne, is proposing to open a similar strip club at a shuttered restaurant in Angola, about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne in Indiana's far northeastern corner.

Butler announced in August that he planned to open a strip club at the site, prompting the council to change local ordinances in an effort to prevent him. The Herald-Republican reported that in November the city denied Butler a sexually oriented business permit to operate the proposed business because the building he purchased for the club is within 750 feet of a residential structure.

Butler's attorneys have threatened to file a federal lawsuit against the city for its efforts to block the club.

Before one zoning ordinance change was made, a sexually oriented business could be no closer than 1,000 feet from a residential zoning district. Two houses near the strip club's proposed site are not in residential zones and the nearest residential zone is 1,200 feet from Butler's building.

The council also changed the building's zoning category, giving it an industrial zoning status where sexually oriented establishments cannot locate.

At the time that Butler bought the building on Aug. 9, the site's zoning allowed a sexually oriented business.