At a special North Miami Board of Adjustments meeting Thursday night, board members gave a strip club owner the waiver he needed to sell alcohol at the city's first adult entertainment venue.
The five to two vote is already in question after several opponents said the meeting was in violation of the city's charter because there was no motion made to call the meeting, it did not happen on a normal day and was not authorized under the city's procedural requirements.
At 8:44 p.m., Local 10 was still working to get confirmation from the City Attorney's Office on whether Thursday night's meeting was in violation, making the vote invalid.
Opponents have dubbed what will be North Miami's first adult entertainment venue as the "Sesame Street Strip Club."
That's because the proposed location for Sunny Isles Eatery's massive 20,000 square foot strip club is next to WPBT, a PBS station that runs the popular "Sesame Street" children's program. An area street at WPBT's North Miami location is named after the famed television show.
The proposed strip club's location is also less than 500 feet from Miami Gymnastics and Dance Academy, where hundreds of young Miamians practice gymnastics.
In June, the City Council already made the controversial decision to allow Sunny Isles Eatery to operate an adult entertainment club with alcohol, making it the city's first.
But there was a problem for the business owners: The "All-America City," as North Miami calls itself, has an ordinance banning any business from selling alcohol if it is located within 1500 feet of a church, school, park or residence.
Despite being located in an industrial area, the site is 873 feet from an apartment building and therefore in violation of the ordinance.
On Thursday night, five of the seven Board of Adjustment members granted Sunny Isles Eatery a waiver allowing them to violate that ordinance and sell alcohol.
Jeff Cazeau, an attorney representing Sunny Isles Eatery, told Local 10 that his clients have made plenty of concessions, including the planned construction of a beam structure to shield the entrance of the strip club from passerbys and promising that their strip club would not have a "sexual" name.
Other conditions that must be met:
- Sunny Isles Eatery must provide security on all nights.
- For the first 90 days of business, two off-duty police officers must be present on all nights in the first 90 days of business.
- After the first 90 days of business, one off-duty police officer must be present on weeknights and two off-duty police officers must be present on weekends.
- Sunny Isles Eatery must sound-proof their building to reduce noise.
- Sunny Isles Eatery will not be allowed to rent or allow use of their venue to a promoter that would advertise to the general public.
The clubs hours will be:
- Monday - Friday: 4 p.m - 4:30 a.m.; sale of alcohol 4 p.m. - 4 a.m.; consumption until 4:30 a.m.
- Saturday and Sunday: 1 p.m.- 5:30 a.m.; sale of alcohol 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.; consumption to 5:30 a.m.
- Saturday and Sunday mornings: Open at 1 p.m.; sales until 5 p.m.; consumption until 5:30 a.m.
During the meeting, Natalia Pyrig of Miami Gymnastics and Dance Academy made an impassioned plea to board members to deny the waiver out of concern for the hundreds of kids who attend her facility.
Several children took to the podium to speak, carrying signs that read "protect our community." There were concerns about children being exposed to drunk and aroused strip club patrons, possible accidents that could be caused from patrons driving home under the influence, and the crime that might take place at an adult entertainment venue.
Proponents for Sunny Isles Eatery told the board that the company has a right to exist and are compelled to be in that location because the City has regulated that area to be the only area for adult entertainment.
They also said that Miami Gymnastics and Dance Academy is not technically a "school" and therefore is not protected by the 1,500 square foot ordinance that bans the sale of alcohol near a school.
Hans Mardy, a board member, scolded Pyrig for bringing some of her young students to an adult-themed meeting. He went on to say that the successful three-year dance school should not exist in that location.
Thursday night's decision was a devastating blow to the groups of people fighting to keep a strip club out of their backyard.
Pyrig defended her decision to invite the young gymnasts, arguing that it provided them a lesson in democracy and fighting for what they believe.
She also vowed that this fight is not over. Her next step, she said, court.
Stay tuned to Local 10 for new developments on this story.