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Been There 36 Years, But Warren, Michigan wants Jon Jon’s gone

Oakland County, Michigan – from – Topless dancing at one of Macomb County’s two adult entertainment lounges will come to a halt if Warren officials get their way.

Four weeks after tweaking a city ordinance that regulates sexually oriented businesses, officials have asked a judge to block topless activity at Jon Jon’s. For 36 years, the bar has been located on Mound Road, south of 12 Mile.

For many years, city officials regarded the lounge a permissible operation because it was opened years before changes in a zoning law that otherwise would have prohibited the adult activity because of the building’s proximity to a neighboring residential area. Most notably, its location within 750 feet from a residential zone.

In 2005, Warren council members approved strict regulations and amended a 1986 zoning law that governed where adult cabarets and other sexually oriented business could be located.

But the council exempted businesses that serve alcohol because they felt bars were under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

With no fanfare or debate, the council last month amended the ordinance to also regulate booze-serving businesses where sex sells.

In documents filed Oct. 6 in Macomb County Circuit Court, the city is requesting an order that the property may not be used as a sexually oriented business and a permanent injunction preventing the current owners and a prospective buyer from using the property that way. In the alternative, the city hopes the facility be governed by the new, tougher regulations applied to sexually oriented businesses.

In early 2009, the city’s zoning appeals board and planning commission approved a request by the owner of the property at the time, Elsie Mistopolous, to build a 147-square-foot addition for a walk-in cooler, and to increase the roof to a height no higher than 33.5 feet.

According to the lawsuit, changes to the city’s zoning ordinance included a provision that if property changes ownership after a zoning variance is granted by before construction begins, the approval is rescinded and a new application would be required.

The property on Mound Road was later purchased by Warren Property Investments LLC. That entity was later issued a building permit for $375,000 in building alterations.

But city officials allege that reconstruction that has “virtually replaced the former building where Jon Jon’s previously operated” is “drastically different” that the site plan approved by the planning commission, the lawsuit states.

City officials notified Warren Property Investments’ Lahkman Al-Hakim and Jon Jon’s is no longer a legal use of the property because the building plans and construction do not comply with the zoning law provisions for the commercially-zoned district. The city also claims that the value of the new construction exceeds the 30 percent of the value of a nonconforming building, in violation of Warren’s zoning law.

If Circuit Judge Peter Maceroni rejects the city’s request, Warren officials want him to rule that Jon Jon’s be subject to the city’s regulations for sexually oriented businesses.

A hearing date has not been set.

Also named as defendants are Jon Jon’s longtime majority owner Victoria Cerrito, minority owner Masoud Sesi, who is the owner of a Detroit strip club, and Nancy Hakim, who wants to purchase the liquor license.

Their attorney, David Viar, was not immediately available for comment.

In June, Hakim and the bar’s current owners sued the city and Councilman Mark Liss for not approving the transfer of the license. That lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

When council members unanimously approved changes to the sexually oriented business regulations on Sept. 14, including applying the measure to businesses that serve alcohol, they gave it immediate effect by declaring it an “emergency” ordinance.

Michigan law prohibits total nudity in any business that serves alcohol. The state does not prevent local governments from setting restrictions or exempting sexually oriented businesses that serve beer, wine or liquor. Municipalities can set tougher standards than the state on businesses that serve alcohol, according to the LCC.

In its current form, Warren’s ordinance also requires sexually oriented businesses to:

Be at least 750 feet from residential areas and more than 1,000 feet from any school, park, day care center, church or public library.

Remain closed between midnight and 6 a.m.

Pay an annual license fee of $100 with a $50 annual renewal, plus a $50 employee license.

Courts have held that municipalities cannot issue an outright ban on sexually oriented businesses. But such establishments can be regulated when geared at preventing negative secondary effects such as prostitution and drug use.


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