By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer
Kokomo city officials want The Tease, 107 E. Markland Ave. shut down permanently after an Indianapolis television station showed adult entertainment continuing at the club.
The city filed for an injunction against the club March 28, alleging the club was violating a “cease and desist” order issued by the director of the Kokomo/Howard County Plan Commission.
That was just after WRTV found topless dancers inside the club, and several weeks after city officials said they first became aware adult entertainment had returned to the club.
Plan commission director Greg Sheline ordered the club to stop offering adult entertainment on Nov. 20, alleging club owners had violated the city’s zoning code by expanding without proper permits.
The Kokomo Board of Zoning Appeals upheld Sheline’s notice of violation on Dec. 13, and the club owners then filed a court appeal. That appeal is pending.
City officials said the club was only operating as a bar while the appeal was pending, but Wednesday, Brian Oaks, an attorney representing club owners Brett Morrow and Dustin Ogle, said the dancing never really stopped.
“I don’t feel there’s a lawful reason to preclude us from doing what we’ve been doing the whole time,” Oaks said.
He contends the city has no authority to shut the club down or to issue fines while the appeal is pending.
An injunction, issued by a judge, would change that, Oaks concedes, but for the time being, he added, the owners will continue to offer topless dancing.
Howard Superior Court Judge William Menges is scheduled to hear the city’s injunction May 7.
City attorney Lawrence McCormack said Wednesday the city will ask Menges to shut the club down completely.
Oaks said he doesn’t think the city has any right to seek a complete shutdown of the club, saying the owners have a valid liquor license.
“I don’t dispute they have a legal right to ask that The Tease stop operating as an adult entertainment business. I don’t think they have the right to ask the judge to lock the door,” Oaks said.
In the injunction filing, city officials said Kokomo Police officers conducted undercover surveillance on the club March 4 after hearing the club wasn’t complying with Sheline’s cease and desist order. Officers recorded and observed topless dancing.
On March 25, the injunction states, WRTV reporter Ebone Monet also documented adult entertainment at the club. The report aired March 26, and the city filed for an injunction two days later.
Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.