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The Ol’ Secondary Effects Argument: Strip club, rehab site bad mix, Pittsburgh says

Pittsburgh – from – A Pittsburgh attorney urged a state appeals court Tuesday to reject a decision from a lower court that would allow a West End strip club to open.

Krista Staley, an attorney representing the city, argued that increased traffic and the club’s proximity to the nearby Onala Club — a facility that helps people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction — would harm the community.

“We don’t want a strip club because of the negative perception, at the entrance to our community,” said Councilwoman Theresa Smith, whose district includes the West End.

A three-judge panel of Commonwealth Court judges heard the city’s appeal of a ruling by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James, who ordered the city in 2009 to grant Patrick Risha a conditional-use permit for the all-nude Club Marquise.

The city planning commission gave a negative recommendation to the strip club in November 2008. After the planning commission’s decision, City Council was supposed to hold a vote within three months. When it failed to do so, the planning commission’s recommendation stood.

Risha appealed, and James gave the city a second chance to hold a meeting. When it didn’t, James ruled in favor of Risha.

The judge said the building meets all the objective requirements for an adult-entertainment facility, including space requirements away from schools and churches.

“There’s no dispute here that we met the objective criteria,” said attorney Clifford Levine, who represents Risha. “These are pretty tough requirements. It’s very difficult to find any place anywhere in the city (where an adult club is allowed).”

A 4 1/2-month lag in transferring paperwork from one side of City Hall to another was a major reason why City Council failed to hold a hearing, according to a report released by Controller Michael Lamb afterward.

The appeals court could take months to issue a decision.


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