WESTBROOK — City councilors took no action Monday night on a proposed ordinance that would regulate strip clubs in the city.

The Committee of the Whole, made up of all seven city councilors, held a meeting on the proposal, which would ban full nudity and prohibit strip clubs from operating within 500 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds, churches and libraries.

The ordinance was proposed in response to the short-lived opening of Dreamers Cabaret, a full-nudity strip club on Warren Avenue.

The club opened Sept. 17 and was closed the next day, after city fire officials said they found code violations involving fire alarms, sprinkler coverage and state construction permits.

City officials say the club opened illegally, because the owner misrepresented what would happen there and because construction was done indoors without a permit. They also contend that Dreamers will have to comply with the ordinance if it’s passed by the council.

City officials said Monday night that Larry Ferrante, the club’s owner, has applied for a bottle club license, which would allow patrons to bring their own alcohol.

The proposed ordinance considered by the committee Monday would prohibit alcohol on the premises.

Ferrante did not attend the meeting and did not return calls seeking comment.

Tom Hallett, the lawyer representing the club, has said that because the business opened before the ordinance was proposed, it would be exempt. He says it would operate under a city code that now imposes no restrictions on nude dancing.

City Council President Brendan Rielly questioned Monday whether Ferrante needs an amusement permit to operate the club.

“We are still trying to work through the bottle club license procedure,” said City Administrator Jerre Bryant. “We have been working with the state. We have no provision for bottle clubs locally, and we want to make sure it is done correctly.”

City councilors questioned whether Ferrante has disclosed his plans for the building, which is in the city’s industrial zone.

Rick Gouzi, the city’s code enforcement officer, said he hasn’t received anything in writing. Gouzi said he still needs the design for the building’s septic system and needs to see the fire alarm system finished. He said Ferrante filled out another plumbing permit for additional bathrooms.

The Planning Board is reviewing the proposed ordinance, which would amend the city’s land use ordinance.

The board is expected to make a recommendation at its next meeting. The Committee of the Whole will meet again before making a recommendation to the City Council.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]