Crestwood crowd strongly against planned strip club
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org August 19, 2014 9:36PM
Steve Troglio, a Pastor at Firehouse Chapel, who has consoled women in the adult industry pleads to the board not to allow the proposed gentlemen's club at the Crestwood Civic Center for the town meeting, Tuesday, August 19th, 2014, in Crestwood. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2014 8:13PM
More than 150 people crammed into the Crestwood Civic Center on Tuesday evening, voicing their staunch opposition to a proposed strip club in the village.
And they exploded in applause when Mayor Louis Presta, after hearing about a dozen residents speak against the club, vowed to fight in court any attempt to establish such a club in Crestwood.
Earlier Tuesday, Jamie Marcanio, owner of the At The Office tavern, 4901 W. Calumet Sag Road, filed for a special use zoning permit and paid a $500 filing fee at village hall to open an “adult cabaret” in a vacant building at 13801 Kenton Ave.
Marcanio did not attend Tuesday’s town hall meeting. He was not at the tavern when a reporter called about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, an employee said.
Those who did attend the meeting were overwhelmingly against having a strip club in town — citing potential noise, traffic and parking problems and the chances that the business would attract unsavory types to Crestwood along with drug dealing and prostitution. Another major issue was the club’s impact on residents’ property values.
“This is troubling, very troubling,” resident Steve Troglio said. “This is an open door to sex trade. Many of these girls (strippers) are runaways. Half do drugs to go up (on stage) and do what they’re supposed to do. We raised three kids here. Crestwood is home. It’s where families come. I want my kids to be in a safe place.”
Wincelaus Podbielski, who said he moved from Blue Island, called Crestwood “the nicest place other than my boyhood on a family farm in Wisconsin.
“This is what you’d consider a sexually oriented club. We all know what they are. I used to travel down Cicero Avenue and there was one at 14th and Cicero,” he said, prompting an amusing moment when Presta chimed in with, “1410 Cicero. My office was next door. That’s the truth.”
After the laughter subsided, Podbielski cautioned that if the village allows the club to open “it will jump up and bite you.”
Resident Patricia Carlin said “our biggest concerns are property values. As soon as you bring in a strip club, values drop. And I want to know how a part-time police department is going to handle the scum that’s going to come in. They can’t even handle the gangbangers and drug dealers in our community.”
Turning toward the packed room, Carlin asked anyone in favor of the club to raise their hand. No one did.
A meeting of the village’s planning and development committee will be held at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the civic center, village attorney David Sosin said. Marcanio must attend that meeting or the zoning application will be dead, Presta said.
Sosin said Crestwood has an ordinance that restricts adult entertainment businesses to areas more than 1,000 feet from a church or school. The proposed site of the strip club is in an industrial area that would comply with the ordinance, he said.
Presta cited a state law that he said limits such establishments to more than a mile from a school, day care center, cemetery, public park, forest preserve, public housing or place of religious worship. The village plans to use that law in its legal fight, he said, later acknowledging that he did not know of any town that had used that defense successfully.
“They have no place to build. I’m sure this will be in the courts,” Presta said. “... There’s no place in the village they can put a strip club, no matter how you look at it. We may get sued, and we’ll go to court. But that’s the end of the gentlemen’s club. They won’t get a liquor license and they won’t get a gaming license and they won’t come in and spend $1 million on this.”
One resident who later said he is adamantly opposed to the strip club tried to list some restrictions for the club and was met with an angry response from the audience. Jim Breslin was shouted down by some residents when he said he “wouldn’t mind” if the club’s female employees dressed like Hooters waitresses.
He conceded Wednesday that he didn’t make his point very well and said his suggestion was to allow Hooters-like dress in an ordinance rather than letting workers dress like those at a strip club, as a restriction that might help prevent the club from opening.
Breslin said Wednesday that he had done research on how cities have stopped strip clubs and presented the information to Presta and some board members before Tuesday’s meetings. He proposed requiring background checks, drug tests and HIV tests for employees. He also said he stayed at the community center after the meeting collecting additional signatures for the petition against the strip club.