A Columbia business that for eight years has fought a legal battle to allow nude female dancing recently won a court victory over the borough.
In June, Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Judge Margaret C. Miller reversed a Columbia zoning board's decision banning nude dancing at Club Good Times.
Miller determined that Columbia has no zone allowing for an adult live entertainment facility such as a strip club. Yet, Pennsylvania law requires municipalities to provide zones for every legitimate use of land.
With no zone available to operate an adult-use business, Club Good Times is able to feature nude dancing at 425 Union St., a residential area, Miller ruled.
The borough is appealing the decision.
The borough's attorney, Neil Albert, of Zimmerman, Pfannebecker, Nuffort & Albert LLP, said fully nude as opposed to partially clothed dancing is "still an open issue." The legal issue has continued since 2007 when Club Good Times changed its sign to advertise totally nude dancing and the borough served a notice to stop nude dancing.
One judge's ruling, he said, "does not change our position." The borough will cite the club for illegal use if nude dancing takes place.
Allen Shollenberger, the attorney representing Club Good Times, said the club's challenges to the zoning regulations are about "the right to do business — it's not a battleground."
Borough code allows for adult-use business in districts zoned for general industrial use. However, an adult live entertainment facility must be at least 500 feet away from the lot line of any library, public park or existing dwelling. It must be 1,000 feet from a school, place of worship or day care center.
Attorneys representing both parties agreed that the general industrial zone on the west side of the borough does not have an area available that met the conditions. That leaves the east side, near the Susquehanna River and Glatfelter Field.
Referring to testimony from the zoning hearing, Miller's opinion states that since both sides agreed Glatfelter Field is owned and controlled by Columbia Borough School District and used for sanctioned school events, it is a school and not a park.
Since there is no property at least 1,000 feet away from the field, there is no place where an adult live entertainment facility can be located, Miller stated.
Setting up zones and a zoning code that doesn't allow for such a use is "unconstitutional," Miller wrote in her opinion.
According to an email from the club, dancers are performing nude.
Mayor Leo Lutz said he supports appealing the judge's decision, adding there are quality of life issues for residents in the area.
Parking is a problem, Lutz said. He also hears complaints about beer cans on the sidewalks and public urination. The club does not have a liquor license but allows customers to bring their own alcoholic beverages.
"If it wasn't for what happened outside, (residents) wouldn't be so concerned with what went on inside," Lutz said.
Police Chief Jack Brommer said records show emergency responders were called to the club's address six times in the past 18 months. Illegal activities included public nudity and public drunkenness. Recently, a naked man was throwing trash and doing push-ups in the alley.
While "any incident is one too many," said Brommer, the numbers are not out of line with bars and restaurants in the area. Emergency services responded to calls to Union Station — a bar in the same neighborhood — five times in the same time frame.
The dispute will continue in Commonwealth Court.