Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Work to resume on Austintown strip club at I-80
The strip club's owner
estimates the business will open in about nine weeks.
By ED RUNYAN
YOUNGSTOWN Construction workers will be able to return as early as today to the future location of Go Go Girls Cabaret in Austintown, after a negotiated agreement between county and township officials in federal court Tuesday.
The settlement came after Magistrate George Limbert of Youngstown District Court asked the parties to work out a settlement to the lawsuit Robert Neill of Youngstown filed last week. The lawsuit said the business, in a 5,000-square-foot building attached to the Best Value Inn & Suites, will feature "live, exotic striptease dancing."
Neill filed the suit against the Austintown Fire Department and Jeffrey Uroseva, chief building official for Mahoning County. The township and county each issued stop-work orders after workers began renovating the former nightclub and restaurant for use as a cabaret in early June.
Atty. Martin Yavorcik, representing Neill, said the agreement will be filed today and sets guidelines for the remodeling project.
The lawsuit said Austintown Fire Lt. Richard Milliron issued a stop-work order July 9 because Neill was carrying out demolition without submitting all of the drawings required or applying for all permits needed.
The lawsuit called Milliron's interpretation of the township's fire codes "absurd" and suggested that the township's actions were "motivated by a desire to suppress the free speech rights" of the club.
Township Administrator Mike Dockry said that the stop-work orders the club received were issued because Neill failed to follow fire and building codes and that the actions had nothing to do with the type of business Neill plans to operate.
"The same rules apply" to any type of business that might have tried to open at the location whether it was a restaurant, bar or "gentleman's club" of this type, he said.
Yavorcik said the agreement came after Magistrate Limbert told the parties, "Let's just work this out."
Yavorcik said Limbert told him, "You can do this [open a cabaret], but you've got to do it right."
A cabaret is allowed under the zoning in place at the former Pasquale's Restaurant and Lounge on Clarkins Drive, on the north side of Interstate 80, just off of state route 46, according to the lawsuit. Michael Kurilla, Austintown Township zoning officer, issued the business a certificate of occupancy July 31. It permits an "adult cabaret," the suit said.
The venture will be in a building being leased to Neill that is attached to the Best Value Inn and Suites.
Neill, who said he does not operate any other businesses in the area, estimated that it may take nine more weeks to complete the remodeling and open the club.
Linette Stratford, an assistant county prosecutor who handled the negotiations on behalf of the building department and the township, said she would not comment on the agreement until it became formal today.
Work to resume
A copy of the agreement provided by Yavorcik said the stop-work orders will be revoked, allowing painting, trim, woodworking and mirror installation to resume on interior walls.
Construction documents must be submitted before certain other renovations can be carried out, the agreement says.
Shelley Stevens, general manager of the Comfort Inn & Resorts just east of the strip club, said she would have preferred that such a business not locate next to her hotel.
"We're a very family-oriented business," she said, explaining that it hosts a large number of weddings and reunions and has provided housing to a large number of out-of-town softball players during recent national softball tournaments played in the area.