SOUTH SALT LAKE — The City Council has taken a large, silent step toward closing all-nude strip clubs in this community.
With the exception of Councilman Bill Anderson, council members Wednesday night had very few questions or doubts about the proposed ordinance. Even Anderson, who asked a number of specific questions, attempted to focus more on the city's ability to defend the new regulations in court, both in legal issues and in expenses.
City Attorney Craig Hall refused to answer the questions in an open meeting. Instead, the council has scheduled a closed work meeting for March 28 because of promised litigation.
The strongest opinion about the issue actually came during the regular meeting's council comments when Councilwoman Stacey Liddiard criticized community council leaders for not supporting the ordinance. The community councils have previously told the Deseret News that they would prefer the city spend the money and time on infrastructure.
"They seem to be contrary to the stand that their constituents are taking," Liddiard said. "I have not run into one of my constituents who wants me to vote against this ordinance. I'm wondering who they're representing, because the process is broken."
The proposed ordinance, which the city has worked on for almost a year, would prohibit all-nude dancing in South Salt Lake. It would also prohibit private rooms, patrons touching dancers and would allow seminude dancing only on a stage separated from patrons by at least 6 feet.
The three all-nude clubs could remain open as seminude clubs, even though they exceed the city's limit of one club per 6,000 residents. However, they would probably not get city approval for a private club or beer license, Hall said, because the city has the maximum allowed. He based his statement on an estimated population of 20,000, numbers that will become official by the end of the month.
Attorney Andrew McCullough, who represents the three all-nude clubs, said the clubs are good businesses and present very few problems for the city because they do not serve alcohol. Despite that, he doubted that he would get much support for his opinion from city leaders.
"I'll be surprised if I get one vote here," he said.
The issue has drawn the attention of almost half a dozen other cities, including Sandy and Taylorsville, which have placed moratoriums on sexually oriented business licenses until the South Salt Lake fight is resolved. Hall said he has also had offers of assistance from other city attorneys.
"There are more than just our residents coming to these clubs," Councilman Boyd Marshall said. "Other cities know that (the clubs) could branch out."