LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For years, it has been the subject of a court battle. But starting Feb. 8, Metro officials say its inspectors will begin monitoring Louisville strip clubs to make sure nude dancing is a thing of the past.
There is a slim chance that the U.S. Supreme Court might still hear the case. In the meantime, one of the attorneys representing the strip club owners warns city officials to prepare for the negative effects of the new ordinance.
"I am not optimistic about my clients being able to survive," said Frank Mascagni III.
Mascagni says that stripping away all the attraction of why patrons go to a strip club or adult bookstore in the first place can't be good for their future in Louisville.
"All big cities comparable to ours do not have these kind of restrictions," Mascagni said.
The city ordinance will stop all nude dancing, eventually cut out alcohol sales and force employees to pay licensing fees. Touching and direct tipping of dancers is out, no lap dances and there's a 6 foot distance that must be between dancers and patrons.
"The definition of what's nude, what's semi nude and what's dressed," said Jim Mims, director of Metro Codes and Regulations. "You would think that would be a pretty easy matter to sort out, but it isn't all that easy."
Mims admits the interpretation of the law could get dicey. That is why he says his inspectors have to be ready when they begin enforcement.
"Most of the owners I've spoken with are very serious about this ordinance," said Mims.
Mascagni maintains that is because he told the owners to follow the law. His only hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court could still hear his argument.
"What should be of interest to them is the 23rd Amendment where states cannot prohibit alcohol sales," said Mascagni.
But the city isn't willing to hold off to see if the clubs get that life vest.
"In the next two to three weeks, I'm going to be sending notices to the owners that we have found some violations and that will precede the actual citations," Mims said of the enforcement.
Mascagni contends the city will lose millions in lost conventions, business and sales taxes as well as putting hundreds of people out of work.
"I was naive about the force of politics," Mascagni said of the ordinance. "I am shocked and I think your citizenry would be shocked that we're spending this time and money and manpower."
His example is the bill Mascagni says the city paid to him and other attorneys on a previous challenge it lost.
"Your city government wrote us a check for attorney fees for $140,000 because your city councilmen passed an unconstitutional ordinance," said Mascagni.
Around 25 adult businesses will be affected by the ordinance, which will also cut their hours. The new closing time will be 1 a.m. If businesses fail to obey the ordinance they could face fines, their licenses could be revoked and, in some cases, criminal charges could be filed.
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