The Detroit City Council is expected to vote in less than two weeks on whether to ban alcohol at strip clubs and require topless dancers wear opaque pasties.
Those two regulations were previously taken out of a broad crackdown on the city’s 33 topless bars. But council members decided today that they’ll include the provisions after hearing from a crime expert and a lawyer specializing in restricting strip clubs. The lawyer, Scott Bergthold, a Tennessee attorney, told the group that he believes the changes would withstand a court challenge from strip club owners.
Still, strip club owners are promising to go to court, where the city already is facing several lawsuits related to its regulation of clubs. “It’s unfortunate,” said Larry Kaplan, executive director of ACE of Michigan, the state association of clubs. “They go with any of this, and it will put us out of business.”
But several Detroit pastors who spoke for the crackdown said it’s needed, pointing to statistics showing a connection between the clubs and crime.
“We don’t want the city’s rebirth predicated on sexually oriented businesses,” said the Rev. Ronald Griffin, who chairs Detroit’s police commission.
The proposed changes also include a ban on lap dances and VIP rooms. Topless dancers would have to stay 6 feet away from customers, on stages at least 18 inches high and in rooms of at least 600 square feet.
Council members are scheduled to officially introduce the regulations Friday. They would vote Nov. 20, which is the body’s final meeting of the year. The newly elected council takes office in January.
The crackdown emerged earlier this summer, led by religious and neighborhood groups, who say the clubs bring down the city’s property values and increase crime.