Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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December 4, 2013

Ruling allows Tease to remain a strip club

Judge throws out city request for injunction

A judge threw out a city zoning enforcement action against a Kokomo strip club Tuesday, saying a provision of the city’s zoning code was “incomprehensible.”

Howard Superior Court Judge William Menges dismissed the city’s petition for an injunction against the Tease strip club, 107 E. Markland Ave., ruling the city board of zoning appeals overstepped its bounds when it ruled the club had illegally expanded.

The ruling is a setback to the Kokomo city administration, which had sought to have the club closed for good. The club’s owners have allowed adult entertainment to continue at the club for the past year, despite receiving a “cease and desist” letter from the director of the Kokomo Plan Commission.

“Obviously we’re disappointed in the ruling. At this point we’re still analyzing all the points and we’ll decide the next step after we thoroughly look at it,” Kokomo city attorney Lawrence McCormack said.

In a 10-page ruling, Menges said inconsistencies in the city’s zoning ordinance made the provision used against the Tease “incomprehensible,” and said the fact the club removed an interior wall to expand, rather than adding onto the structure of the building, was reason enough to reverse a December 2012 Kokomo Board of Zoning Appeals ruling.

The club, called The Body Shop under previous owners, became a strip club just prior to the city’s 2006 passage of new zoning rules restricting the location of adult-oriented businesses.

Because the strip club existed prior to the new law, it was effectively grandfathered, meaning it could continue to operate as a legal, non-conforming use.

Properties granted legal non-conforming use status can lose that status, however, if the owners try to expand beyond a set limit.

City officials claimed current owners Brett Morrow and Dustin Ogle illegally expanded the club’s square footage by taking out an interior wall which had separated the club from a former photography business.

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