In the past month Benjamin & Aaronson filed two different federal lawsuits against the City of North Bay Village and the City of North Miami Beach. The North Bay Village suit is a traditional lawsuit claiming that the City of North Bay Villages conditional use requirements violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The North Bay Village suit involves an entity know as Isle of Dreams which is desirous of placing a very upscale Gentlemen’s Club on 79th Street Causeway in North Bay Village. The club is part of a complex that also envisions a restaurant and boardwalk on this beautiful property. To this end Isle of Dreams did everything it could to comply with the City Code in order to get permission to build and operate this club.
What is unique about this situation, is that North Bay Village just years ago singled out this piece of property for adult entertainment and made this piece of property the only parcel in all of North Bay Village for the use of an adult entertainment facility. However, when Isle of Dreams tried to avail itself of the use of their property for adult entertainment they have run into one procedural hurdle after another in obtaining or in the attempt to obtain their conditional use permit.The suit filed by Benjamin & Aaronson attacks as unconstitutional the City’s conditional use permitting scheme along with the way the City has been implementing that scheme.
The other lawsuit that we speak about this month is a suit involving a nude male dance club, Swinging Richards against the City of North Miami Beach. For over twenty-two years nude adult entertainment in the form of women dancing for male patrons was the fare at the current location for Swinging Richards. For twenty-two years the City allowed its police to work special detail at the club and extended to the various clubs that were located on the premises after hours permits. For twenty-two years the clubs at that location were exempted from the adult entertainment ordinances of the City of North Miami Beach.
In late October of 2011, the entertainment at the establishment switched from naked women dancing to that of naked men dancing and the clientele switched from heterosexual men to homosexual men. Other than who is dancing and who is the patron, it is still nude dancing and the entertainment remains the same.
Just several months after Swinging Richards opened up, the City informed the establishment that ordinances that had not been applied to that locale for over twenty-two years were now going to be enforced. The City contends that the grandfather status that the location enjoyed for over twenty-two years somehow was an oversight and that the parcel truly did not enjoy that grandfather status. Even in the face of copies of prior ordinances that showed that the property was entitled to be exempt from the adult entertainment laws of the City of North Miami Beach, the City still contends that is not the case and they intend to use these laws against Swinging Richards.
Benjamin & Aaronson filed suit on behalf of Swinging Richards. The law suit does have some of the constitutional challenges that we have done in the past, as to the unconstitutional licensing scheme and a zone out created by the ordinances. But different from most of the suits that we have filed, is a count involving equal protection. This is based upon the fact that it is quite obvious that the only thing that has changed in North Miami Beach is heterosexual entertainment to homosexual entertainment. Certainly in today’s day and age one would hope that we had moved beyond prejudices directed toward the gay community.
As these cases evolve and wind their way through the system, we will inform you of their progress and what is taking place. Should you have any first amendment or adult entertainment news that you would like to share with our readers, please contact us at 954-779-1700 so we can relay this information to others.