Pressuring the village even more for a topless bar on Industrial Drive, the prospective club owner is pulling state law into his federal lawsuit against Forest Park.
Ken DeGori is now asking a U.S. court to rule unconstitutional an Illinois law that creates a one-mile buffer between nude bars and churches, schools, parks or other protected areas.
In his original suit filed in February with U.S. District Court in Chicago, DeGori argued that his First Amendment right to free speech had been violated by a newly adopted village ordinance regulating the location of sexually explicit businesses.
The amended lawsuit filed March 18 adds the state law to the grievance.
“The combined effect of the ordinance and the municipal code is to prohibit all adult-use entertainment in the Village of Forest Park,” DeGori’s attorneys said in their most recent filing.
DeGori, who lives in Forest Park, applied for a business license and a liquor license Nov. 7-three weeks before the council adopted zoning regulations for sexually explicit businesses. Before the Nov. 26 vote, Forest Park had no regulations with respect to topless bars or other sexually explicit businesses. The new ordinance specifically prohibited topless dancing at 7865 Industrial Drive, where DeGori was proposing to open his club.
DeGori’s applications for a business license and a Class A liquor licensed were denied in a Dec. 5 letter sent by Village Attorney Mike Durkin. Among the reasons for denial listed in the letter, Durkin pointed to the state law.
“Those restrictions include a prohibition to locate or operate a new adult entertainment facility within one mile of the property boundaries of any school, day-care center, cemetery, public park, forest preserve, public housing or place of religious worship,” Durkin said.
That portion of the state’s municipal code was adopted in August, unanimously approved in both the House and the Senate. It applies only to Illinois counties with populations greater than 800,000 and fewer than 2 million.
Before that change, state law provided for a 1,000-foot buffer.
The only challenge to the original state law, according to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, is a case in Effingham County. Owners of an adult bookstore there tried to have the 1,000-foot buffer ruled unconstitutional. According to a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, the judge in that case ruled in favor of the state in 2005. An appellate judge upheld the decision in 2007.
That case, which was filed by owners of the Lions Den bookstore, did not question the more stringent standard adopted by the Legislature in 2007.
Messages left with attorneys for both sides in the Forest Park case were not returned.