A Lawrence businessman’s proposal for a strip club just outside Meriden city limits has sparked a furor among Jefferson County residents who don’t want to see adult entertainment next to their schools.
More than 100 of those residents, many in opposition of the idea, gathered at Oskaloosa Middle School on Tuesday night to voice their opinions before the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission.
“We’re just kind of devastated,” area resident Pearl Raugewitz said. “We’re a fairly small community. We have schools there and churches, and they want to bring in trash.”
The applicant is Zach Snyder, owner of the Douglas County gentlemen’s club Paradise Saloon, which sits just north of Lawrence. Snyder is asking for a conditional use permit for a sexually oriented business that serves alcohol and is a private club. The strip club would go into an existing building already along Kansas Highway 4 just east of the Meriden city limits.
The strip club would be about 900 feet away from Jefferson West High School and within 800 feet of Jefferson West Middle School. If approved, the club would share a property line with the Jefferson West Unified School District. Area resident and parent Alan Hein said he didn’t believe the club was something kids needed to see.
“I’m not opposed to them having the right to do this,” Hein said. “It’s just the location.”
Along with the two schools, Jefferson County planner Duane Buscher said the strip club would be close to a day care and homes.
Tuesday’s meeting was a continuation of a public meeting last month. In that time, Jefferson County Citizens Group has collected more that 660 signatures in opposition of the strip club.
Daniel and Pat Shimmin attended the meeting but admitted to being in the minority. Pat said she estimated 80 percent of the attendees were opposed to the proposal. The Ozawkie couple said they thought the issue was being blown out of proportion.
“What kids see outside that building is 1/16th what they can go home and watch on television or online,” Daniel said. “They’re making a mountain out of a molehill, and the poor mole’s been dead for 20 years.”
Paul Johnson, a member of the planning commission, said another continuation is scheduled for Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. and likely would be at the middle school. Johnson said he thought a recommendation would be reached at that meeting and presented to Jefferson County Commission for a final vote.