FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): It’s been a big story for Fort Wayne and details continue to unfold.
Earlier this week, Fort Wayne City Council members got their first look at a proposal to restrict operations of “sexually-oriented businesses.” Councilman Russ Jehl proposed the bill which would force such businesses – like Fort Wayne’s many strip clubs – to be closed between midnight and 7am.
Councilman Jehl tells WOWO News the proposed restriction is about safety.
“If you look at the gentleman’s clubs across Fort Wayne, over the past 16 months we had 382 police interactions, and 68% of those took place after midnight,” Jehl says.
Thursday, WOWO News also spoke with the owner of Shangri-La West, Dino Zurzolo. He believes the real reason police calls have ticked-up is due to the strip clubs losing onsite off-duty officers.
“Back in 2001, we went through this same scenario as far as trying get them (strip clubs) shutdown and at that time we had some negations that were done through attorneys and one of the things that they asked that we do is not have off-duty officers at any of the clubs… we agreed to that, which we obviously didn’t have a choice and ever since then, we aren’t allowed to have any police presence in any of the clubs at all.”
He says prior to that, if they had any issues at the club, the off-duty officer would take care of them.
If passed, the eight strip clubs currently operating within city limits, could stay open and serve alcohol, but they would have to cut off all business operations related to sexual nature after midnight.
“Not being able to be open after midnight is bad for business,” Zurzolo says. “I would say about 75 percent of our business is from 12am to 3am.”
To try and fight the proposal, Zurolo tells WOWO News, several of the strip club owners have joined forces and hired legal counsel.
“We have met… we actually have retained counsel and we are going to obviously fight this… our hope is that they don’t get enough votes … and I hope that Mr. Jehl understands that he is not just effecting the club owner, but he is effecting the people that work and support their families.”