The developer who proposed a strip club on the old WIOD lot, has entered a law suit against North Bay Village for infringing on his first amendment rights.
The Isle of Dreams L.L.C., whose top officer is Scott Greenwald, claims the village’s Adult Entertainment ordinance is unconstitutional on face and how it is applied to them, and seeks a preliminary injunction to release itself from the ordinances’ constraints.
The filed court documents say the “ordinance imposes an unconstitutional prior restraint”, or a kind of censorship, because it forces an adult complex to seek a conditional use permit that leaves too much discretion to decision makers, and their possible “arbitrary denials.”
The censorship argument comes into play as the Isle of Dreams’ legal team tries to frame the argument that the erotic dancing that will take place in the complex is a form of protected expression. Additionally they argue that the city’s ordinance leaves no other avenue in the city to express in this form.
The Village’s Adult Entertainment ordinance is written as such that no adult business can operate within 500 feet of any school, church, or anywhere children might congregate. The only commercial-use plot of land that seems to adhere to those specifications is the land owned by the Isle of Dreams on the old WIOD plot on 1415 NE 79st, and adjacent to WSVN channel seven.
Additionally, the suit also claims that the project is due a conditional use permit as NBV failed to schedule a public hearing within 60 days of the application being accepted, as per the city’s ordinance.
In that point there is some conflicting accounts. Greenwald’s attorney’s claim that the count of days started with the original application submitted on October 14, 2011. However, communications between the developer and officials from NBV seem to indicate that the city looked at a February 14, 2012 submission as a brand new application submission. The developer’s legal team denies they ever resubmitted the application, and see the October day as the true date of submission.
Greenwald’s company has submitted additional material, such as traffic and nose impact reports to the city as requested by the city. These were asked of the developer because it lacked it in it’s original submission.
In addition to the setback rules of the Adult Entertainment ordinance, other stipulations also exist such as the complex:”Will not adversely affect the health or safety of persons residing or working in the vicinity of the proposed use,” and “Will not be detrimental to the public welfare, properties or improvements in the neighborhood.”
Additionally both NBV’s attorney and former City Planner Alex David wrote to Isle of Dreams on February 29, 2012 and March 5, 2012 respectively, and said they saw the application as incomplete and did not believe the 60 day time frame applied to an application that was incomplete.
North Bay Village has 21 days from day after they received the summons to respond to the suit, or the courts might rule by default in favor of the injunction. The suit was filed on March 28, 2012.
As of print time, NBV had not yet determined the route they would take. City Manager Denis Kelly told the SunPost that action would be taken, but as of yet the city had not had it’s executive session over the matter. In an executive session the administration and the commission meet in a closed-to-the-public meeting to discuss their legal options. Sometimes notes are taken in such meetings, and after the litigation is over with, they are released.
Kelly told the SunPost that the city’s legals team had already met with individual commissioners to explain the case.
Still, as of yet, there is no official comment on the case by NBV.
The controversial project exploded onto the scene when it came before the NBV Planing and Zoning board in November. The chambers was packed with residents that were outraged over the project. Aside from resident Fane Lozman, every single person who showed up and spoke in that meeting was against the strip club. Recognizable anchors from neighboring WSVN Channel Seven came out in droves to speak against it. Despite the project having a recommendation from city staff, the P and Z board voted to not recommend it to the City Commission. Since then visible fever has died down.
Local Blogger, and strip club opponent, Kevin Vericker has taken to his blog NBVreality.com and urged residents to write the commission and express their opposition.
“The strip club will be a disaster for North bay Village,” he wrote.