Catholic nuns take on strip-club for zoning violations

The Village of Stone Park IL and a strip club are being sued by a group of Catholic nuns for breaking state law. Property rights at issue.

Things are getting steamy, in a legal sense, for a strip club and a local government jurisdiction in Illinois. According to a lawsuit filed by the Chicago-based Thomas More Society on behalf of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, the Village of Melrose Park, and Melrose Park residents, the locating of the Get It/Club Allure immediately adjacent to a Catholic convent is allegedly in violation of state law.
 
The Village of Stone Park is also a respondent in the lawsuit. Stone Park has challenged the constitutionality of the Illinois buffer law, despite the fact that this law has been upheld, and the ruling affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court, said a statement by TMS.
 
 “The Sisters have every right to pray and work peacefully without disruption from a strip club in their backyard,” said Peter Breen of TMS in a June 15 statement. “Nor should children have to walk past the strip club’s litter of empty beer and whiskey bottles and used condoms.  We are fighting for the rights of the Sisters, neighboring families, and people of Melrose Park. The Illinois state zoning law provides for their protection, and they deserve to have the law enforced.”
 
 
In a previous statement, Breen said of the controversy "Strip clubs don't belong next to convents and single-family homes," adding "We are dedicated to standing up for the rights of the Sisters, residents, and the people of Melrose Park, all of whom have been suffering disruption and damage from this strip club in their backyards
 According to TMS, which describes itself as a nonprofit public interest law firm, Illinois law requires a 1,000 foot buffer zone between adult entertainment venues such as Club Allure and places of worship or schools.  The firm alleges that the Village of Stone Park allowed the $3 million Club Allure strip club to open and operate since September 2013, immediately adjacent to the convent. The Catholic facility is home to retired nuns, and aspirants to religious life, which has three chapels.
 
 TMS alleges in its claims that the strip club harms plaintiffs and others with:
 
* Noise and glaring neon lights that flash on and off throughout the night until dawn
* Public violence, including fist fights, and drunkenness in the strip club vicinity
* Litter, such as empty whiskey and beer bottles, used condoms, cigarette and cigar butts, surrounding the property
* Loud, unruly, and boisterous late night pedestrian traffic, along with speeding cars
 
 The firm also alleges that the nuns were never notified by Stone Park authorities of the change in the zoning designation of the property adjacent to their convent and were not aware of it until builders were nearly finished with the project. 
 
Additionally, Stone Park has challenged the constitutionality of the Illinois buffer law, despite the fact that this law has been upheld, and the ruling affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court.
 
TMS has asked the court to declare Club Allure a nuisance and “enforce the relief needed to redress and repair the defendants’ violations of the plaintiffs’ legal rights.”


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

Filed under us, illinois, catholic, politics, religion, morality, ethics, crime, Americas

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