Illinois nuns take legal action against bordering strip club
 Missionary Sisters of St. Charles march for their convent in a March 2012 protest. Courtesy of United for a Better Stone Park.
Missionary Sisters of St. Charles march for their convent in a March 2012 protest. Courtesy of United for a Better Stone Park.
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.- The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo have taken legal action against a giant “adult entertainment” club built in their backyard – despite state law which prohibits such facilities within 1,000 feet of a place of worship.

“Strip clubs don't belong next to convents and single-family homes,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society.

The Thomas More Society is representing the convent in the lawsuit against the neighboring strip club which, according to the suit, violates Illinois zoning laws. The Village of Melrose Park has joined the sisters in their lawsuit against the Village of Stone Park, the adjacent village where the club is built.

The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo have made their home in their Melrose Park convent for over 70 years. The convent is made up of a home for elderly sisters, a school for novices and living space for the sisters, as well as three chapels. The back of the strip club is visible from one of the chapels and stands just a few feet away from the convent’s backyard fence.

The suit asserts that “Club Allure” – which was originally intended to be named “Get It” – has brought drunken violence, blaring lights and loud music until 5 a.m., litter such as liquor bottles, used condoms, used syringes, and “unruly late night pedestrian traffic” to the neighborhoods surrounding the club.

“The Sisters have every right to pray and work peacefully without disruption from a strip club in their backyard,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “We are fighting for the rights of the Sisters, neighboring families, and people of Melrose Park. The Illinois state zoning law provides for their protection, and they deserve to have the law enforced.”

In April 2010, the Village of Stone Park – the bordering village where the strip club stands – was sued by the club’s developer who accused officials of “shaking him down for cash and part ownership of the (c)lub in exchange for permission to build the facility,” according to one report from the Thomas More Society.

Although the lawsuit had little to do with zoning ordinances, the village agreed to repeal several of them as part of the settlement, including one similar to the state’s statute which prohibits adult entertainment facilities from being built within 1,000 feet of places of worship.

The sisters and residents from Stone Park and Melrose Park protested the strip club when it was discovered what kind of facility it would be.

The $3 million, 18,000 square foot “gentlemen’s club” eventually opened in Sept. 2013 after internal disputes between the landowner and the building owner.

The club boasts itself as “Chicago’s premiere adult playground” that is “constantly pushing the envelope with entertainment” and is perfect for bachelor, bachelorette, and divorce parties with both male and female “dancers.”

Tags: Religious freedom, Nuns

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