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Archive for Friday, April 7, 2006

K.C. saloon sues county over permit rejection

April 7, 2006

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— Wyandotte County officials who developers say initially granted a request to bring a bar to a shopping district near the Kansas Speedway now face a legal battle after denying a special-use application for the Coyote Ugly Saloon.

RED Speedway Inc., the developer of The Legends shopping center, claims it received approval in 2004 to bring in as a tenant the New York-based bar known for bartop-dancing women and the movie it inspired by the same name.

But wary that the national chain uses sex as a marketing tool, and after public outcry at two meetings earlier this year, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., commissioners rejected a permit required of businesses that intend to sell more alcohol than food.

That prompted attorneys for RED Speedway and Coyote Ugly to file a lawsuit contending officials acted arbitrarily. They also claim the original approval was instrumental in the design of The Legends and that $2 million has been spent in constructing a building for the bar.

RED Development wants a Wyandotte County court to either overturn the commissioners' decision and approve the permit or award more than $2 million in damages.

"I've read the lawsuit and we believe the commission's action was well within the law and based on facts and supported by evidence," said Hal Walker, chief legal counsel for the Unified Government. "We find the entire basis of their lawsuit a little bit absurd."

County officials say the original approval was merely a letter demonstrating what kind of entertainment, stores and restaurants would be included in the development. But it did not obligate officials to issue special-use permits for any tenets that might require them.

Opponents claim the bar would detract from the family nature of the shopping and entertainment district, calling Coyote Ugly everything from "soft porn" to accusing it of promoting the notion of "let's get guys drunk and horny."

Unified Government Mayor Joe Reardon, who has fought off several attempts by strip clubs to locate in the county, called Coyote Ugly "a pure drinking establishment" that is "not suitable for our community or this development."

The Legends shopping center has yet to open a bar.

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