City officials claim the owner of a West Mobile establishment is operating an illegal gentlemen’s club, and considered the future of the business’s license to operate at a public hearing Tuesday.
On three different occasions, city inspectors have discovered nude dancing at A Touch of Class on Halls Mill Road, Mobile Police Department attorney Wanda Rahman told councilors on Tuesday. Also at issue was the club’s apparent proximity to residential properties.
Joseph Johnson, owner of A Touch of Class, said he had never had a single violation in six years of owning another club, called The Lion’s Den. He also said that establishment was much closer to a church, a school and residential homes than the location of A Touch of Class.
“This business is located in an industrial park,” Johnson said. “There isn’t a house, a school, or a church within 3,000 feet.”
Although the property across the street from A Touch of Class is zoned residential, Johnson said there are no homes on the lot. He also maintained that the two gentlemen’s clubs the city allows to operate — one in Tillman’s Corner and the other on Airport Boulevard — are both closer to residential properties than his club.
“I’ve been in this business for 22 years, and I had a similar case to this come up in Baltimore, Maryland, where I come from,” he said. “I went to the Supreme Court with it and won because this is a constitutional issue. I understand the business is frowned upon, but it is a legitimate business.”
Lagniappe was unable to immediately confirm whether a case involving Johnson was appealed to the level of the Maryland Supreme Court or the Supreme Court of the United States.
Councilman John Williams argued that Johnson’s other club in the Mobile area was located in the county, where zoning restrictions are more lax. He added that the city does not allow “adult entertainment” unless it’s specifically permitted.
Williams said he believes the city should prevent owners like Johnson from getting business licenses after violations on three different visits.
“This is irresponsible ownership,” Williams said. “Three strikes; that’s enough.”
The council will vote on a proposal to revoke Johnson’s license at its next meeting. That will take place Thursday, June 6, at 10:30 a.m. A pre-conference meeting will take place at 9 a.m. on the ninth floor of Government Plaza.
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