VOL. 123 | NO. 49 | Tuesday, March 11, 2008
State Appeals Court Upholds Strip Club Ruling
By Bill Dries
The Tennessee Court of Appeals has upheld a Shelby County Circuit Court ruling in favor of a Brooks Road strip club closed by the city of Memphis.
The ruling issued today involved the New York, New York club at 2080 E. Brooks Road near Memphis International Airport. At issue was local government’s insistence that the property couldn’t open as a strip club because its owner, Steve Cooper, through his company named Manhattan Inc., had waited longer than a year to reopen it as such a business.
City codes would have allowed the strip club to be grandfathered into restrictions on such clubs in the area had Cooper reopened it sooner, attorneys for the city, county and code enforcement office contended. But Circuit Court Judge Donna Fields ruled they had caused the delay in reopening by revoking permits Cooper needed to reopen the business. The Appeals Court affirmed the 2006 ruling.
New York, New York closed in late 2002 for remodeling and because of the permits dispute remained closed until Fields’ ruling.
The Appeals Court ruling, written by Judge Holly M. Kirby of Memphis, held that the renovation work wasn’t the reason the club was out of business.
“Manhattan’s club was closed for over two years because local authorities refused to grant the required permits and their refusal stemmed from the adult oriented use of the premises,” she wrote. “If this were deemed a discontinuance or an abandonment, this would in fact undermine the ordinances allowing prior non-conforming uses under certain circumstances, because local authorities could force an abandonment by denying required permits or instituting legal action, even for spurious reasons.”
Cooper owns several Memphis strip clubs. As the owner of New York, New York and other clubs, he is among those suing the city and county in federal court over the county’s recently enacted strip club ordinance which forbids the sale or consumption of beer in the club and requires a permit system to regulate workers and owners. The ordinance applies to the city of Memphis unless or until the city enacts its own ordinance.