Strip club in nuns’ backyard violates Illinois zoning law
CHICAGO – The Thomas More Society has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, the Village of Melrose Park, and Melrose Park residents against “Get It”/“Club Allure” and the Village of Stone Park. The “Club Allure” strip club opened immediately adjacent to the Sisters’ convent, which the suit alleges is in violation of Illinois zoning law.
“The Sisters have every right to pray and work peacefully without disruption from a strip club in their backyard,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “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.”
“The Sisters have every right to pray and work peacefully without disruption from a strip club in their backyard.”
The State of Illinois mandates a 1,000 foot buffer zone between places of adult entertainment and any place of worship or school. But the Village of Stone Park has allowed the $3 million “Club Allure” strip club to open and operate since September 2013, immediately adjacent to the Sister’s convent, which hosts three chapels, a home for retired sisters, and a novice house for young women discerning whether they are called to religious life.
In addition to the strip club’s alleged violation of the applicable Illinois zoning law, Thomas More Society’s complaint also asserts the following claims against the strip club:
- Numerous harms to the plaintiffs and other neighbors, including:
- noise and glaring neon lights that flash on and off all night long till dawn (5 a.m.), impairing the Sisters’ and other neighbors’ peaceful use and enjoyment of their own properties and disturbing the sleep of elderly sisters in the Sisters’ home for the aged;
- public violence, including fist fights, and drunkenness in the strip club’s area;
- litter, such as empty whiskey and beer bottles, used condoms evidencing illicit sexual misbehavior either in or nearby the club, cigarette and cigar butts; and
- loud, unruly, and boisterous late night pedestrian traffic up and down nearby residential streets and sidewalks, and speeding cars with screeching tires on nearby streets.
- The Sisters were never notified of Stone Park’s re-zoning the property immediately next to the Sisters’ convent and didn’t learn of it until construction of the strip club was nearly completed.
- Constitutionality of the Illinois buffer law. Stone Park’s lawyer argues that the state buffer law is unconstitutional. However, municipal officials may not simply disregard state laws but would have to secure a judicial declaration that any duly enacted state law is unconstitutional. Moreover, the constitutionality of this Illinois buffer law has been upheld in a ruling affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court.
Thomas More Society has asked the Court to enjoin or abate the strip club as a “nuisance” and for all other relief needed to redress and repair the defendants’ violations of the plaintiffs’ legal rights.
Read Thomas More Society complaint here.