Strip club neighboring convent may violate Ill. law

Bishop Scalabrini Community of the Missionary Sisters of St Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians  in Melrose Park IL CNA US Catholic News 2 10 12 The Bishop Scalabrini Community of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo in Melrose Park, Ill.

A $3 million strip club preparing to open next to a Catholic convent in an Illinois village is in violation of a state “buffer zone,” a legal group representing local residents and the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo has charged.

“For over 60 years, the Sisters of St. Charles have devoted their lives to teaching the children of Stone Park – service for which they’re now being repaid with a ‘porno palace’ towering over their convent,” Peter Breen, executive director of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, said March 13.

“This facility was located in clear violation of state law, and zoning permissions were given without notice to the Sisters, whose convent is located immediately next to this facility.”

The dispute concerns the construction of the 18,000 square foot club “Get It” several feet from the property line of the sisters’ convent. It will have partially nude performers and alcohol.

Personnel with the strip club have reported that the facility is set to have its first “dry run” on April 1 and will officially open its doors during Holy Week.

Objectors say that the sisters and many neighbors were not properly notified of the project. Stone Park officials said that the village sent notifications to the wrong address because of incorrect property records.

The sisters’ retirement home is closest to the club building. Their property also includes a formation house for novices and provincial offices. The convent property has several chapels.

Sr. Madonna Daltoe, treasurer of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians, told EWTN News in February the sisters objected to the club on the grounds that it would add to the village’s social problems and would affect the prevalence of Christian values in the community.

Breen told a March 12 Stone Park Village Board meeting that state law requires a one-mile “buffer zone” between adult entertainment facilities and “places of worship.”

The club developer sued the village in April 2010, alleging that officials had tried to extort cash and part ownership of the club in exchange for approval to build the facility.

Although most of the village ordinances were unchallenged by the suit, the village agreed to repeal or amend some ordinances as part of a settlement. These included a local ordinance similar to the state statute that created a 1,000-foot buffer zone between adult entertainment businesses and schools, parks, churches and residential areas, the Thomas More Society said.

The Stone Park mayor said that the village chose not to defend against the lawsuit because it would cost $500,000.

Breen said the ordinances could not be successfully challenged because they were “valid and constitutional.”

“There was no reason to agree to the repeal of the ordinances protecting the people of Stone Park from strip clubs coming into their residential and other child-heavy areas,” he said.

The Thomas More Society offered free legal services to the village if it joins residents in acting against the facility.

Opponents of the club have organized a prayer march and candlelight vigil for the evening of March 21, the Christian Post reports.

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