The opening of a strip club in a small, predominantly Latino town in Illinois sparked outcry from local residents and Catholic nuns. Now they are taking their concerns to a legal fight.
The Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit this week against the Village of Stone Park and “Club Allure,” a strip club that opened adjacent to the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles convent.
“I have been working on this case for a long time and I’m still shocked that a municipality (and the owner of a strip club) thought it would be appropriate to construct a place like this next to a convent and single family homes,” Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society, told Fox News Latino. “Who thought this was a good idea?”
In the suit, they claim the town violated state zoning laws by not enforcing the 1,000 foot buffer zone between places of adult entertainment and any place of worship or school.
“The Sisters have every right to pray and work peacefully without disruption from a strip club in their backyard,” said Breen in an earlier statement Monday. "Nor should children have to walk past the strip club’s litter or empty beer and whiskey bottles and used condom.”
He said Illinois’ state zoning law provides for their protection and they “serve to have the law enforced.”
According to Illinois zoning laws, an adult entertainment facility cannot be located within 1,000 feet of the property boundaries of any place of religious worship. An “adult entertainment facility” is defined as striptease club or pornographic movie theatre.
Breen told FNL that they have not spoken directly to members of the town, who believe the Illinois zoning law is unconstitutional. He said it was upheld in an appellate court as constitutional and they believe it will be upheld in their case as well.
“The Illinois law has been used in other parts of the state to close down strip clubs,” he said. “We believe it will be upheld here.”
In addition to violating zoning laws, the lawsuit claimed the strip club’s noise and neon lights, public violence and drunkenness, litter of used condoms and whiskey and beer bottles, and loud and unruly late night pedestrians are impairing the Sisters’ and other neighbors' peaceful use and enjoyment of their own properties.
Breen said the Sisters have witnessed women walking unaccompanied at all hours of the night, which makes them suspect they are partaking in prostitution.
“We are saying that it’s a public nuisance,” Breen said. “There are negative impacts in the neighborhood that has single family homes adjacent to the strip club.”
The lawsuit also claimed the Village of Stone Park changed the zoning of the strip club property from a business zone to an adult facility zone without notifying the convent, who also did not know of the construction of the strip club until it was nearly complete.
The Village of Stone Park is home to about 5,000 residents, most of them Latino, about 15 miles outside of Chicago.