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Opposition mounts to strip club's move downtown
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Opposition mounts to strip club's move downtown

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A local strip club's request to move into a vacant building downtown has stirred up a proverbial hornet's nest.

Ideas are buzzing around the downtown area.

* Councilman Carl Eskridge is working on a city ordinance that would ban or limit additional strip clubs in the downtown area.

* A group called Lincoln Can Do Better has formed to oppose the relocation of the Viper/Drunken Monkey from West Lincoln to the downtown and to support a change in zoning laws banning sexually oriented businesses downtown.

The group is collecting support from downtown residents, businesses and organizations with an online petition drive, according to Dan Parsons, who lives and operates his business downtown.

* The Downtown Lincoln Association sent a strongly worded letter to the City Council opposing another sexually oriented live entertainment business in the downtown area.

Terry Uland, DLA president, said he has never received so many calls on a single issue, and from a variety of people -- small business owners, property owners and residents.

This is not about morality, he said. It's about protecting the economic investment downtown.

This type of business is perceived as being part of urban decay, he said.

* Nelnet and Union Bank, both with downtown locations, have written the council opposing the strip club move.

The Viper/Drunken Monkey started the uproar with what is usually a simple request, to move from West Lincoln to 1211 O St.

The City Council initially approved the move because the topless strip club meets all of the zoning requirements for downtown.

But the state Liquor Control Commission is requiring the strip club to reapply for its liquor license if it wants to move because of recent violations. That has delayed any final decision for several months.

Even if the club doesn't move, the City Council will likely look at proposed zoning changes for the downtown brought by Councilman Eskridge, who lives in that area.

Eskridge said he is looking at options that could include an outright ban or spacing requirements between businesses.

Several years ago, the council prohibited these kinds of businesses east of 17th Street, he said.

"As a downtown resident, this does not thrill me," said Eskridge, who lives about a block and a half from the O Street location.

But Eskridge said he was most concerned about people living in the Centerstone Building, directly across the street from the proposed location.

"I just don't think its good for what we are trying to do downtown, to attract residents and retailers," he said.

But Eskridge said he wants to take a little time to figure out the best solution.

Rather than put the issue on a fast track, Eskridge said, "Let's do this right and not make any mistakes."

This is a zoning issue, said Parsons, who with his wife, Sunny, started the opposition group.

In some documents, downtown is called the city's "living room," he said.

The businesses allowed in the area "need to fit the model of what we want to see downtown."

Reach Nancy Hicks at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com.

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