This is a pretty familiar story line. A businessman wants to open a strip club. Some members of the local community decide that they do not want that kind of thing in their town. The resistance is usually faith-based (which is where the wheels really come off). I fail to understand how anyone can believe in a supreme being, who created all of heaven and earth, but would be upset at some boobies.
The City this time is Destin, Florida. As reported in their local paper, it seems that the driving force behind the attempt to keep the strip club out of town was “ a vocal group of citizens determined to keep an adult entertainment establishment away from a nearby neighborhood and church.” (source)
The strip club sued, under the theory that the city’s attempts to drive them out of town was a violation of their First Amendment rights. And, after spending $300,000 in attorneys’ fees, the city finally backed down – and paid the strip club owner $2.1 million for his First Amendment rights. There will be no strip club, so the zealots can be happy. But, the money to pay the settlement comes out of the City of Destin’s taxpayers’ pockets.
Dollars to cover the buyout will come from the city’s $5.2 million unassigned fund balance, putting a serious dent in reserves accumulated over the years to use in emergencies. (source)
So almost half of the city’s reserve fund gone. I wonder if the churches will give up some of their tax exempt status to help replenish the fund.
Congratulations to First Amendment Lawyer, Gary Edinger, who was lead counsel for the strip club in this case.