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Nuns sue strip club: Strippers, sex, violence next door too close to convent

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Nuns at a convent in the Village of Melrose Park, a suburb of Chicago, have sued a neighboring strip club in Stone Park for violating a state proximity law, documents filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court attest. The Club Allure is separated by from the convent of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo by a fence. And while the nuns and their lawyers say it is a case of morals and legality, attorneys for their opposition say it is a case of differing ideologies and constitutionality.

Reuters reported (via Yahoo News) June 17 that the nun lawsuit complained of late night noise, glaring neon lights, public fist fights, and litter -- including empty whiskey bottles and used condoms -- being tossed throughout the neighborhood. The strip club is located behind the convent and, according to the lawsuit, has become a distraction to the nuns as they go about their daily routines and a nuisance to the neighborhood in general. Several residents and the Village of Melrose Park have joined the nuns' lawsuit.

The Club Allure, a $3 million gentleman's club, has only been open since September.

In short, the nuns have sued to shut the strip club down.

The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo cite an Illinois mandate that a 1,000-foot (300-meter) buffer zone be effected between adult entertainment venues and places of worship or schools. Their campus contains three chapels, a home for retired sisters, and a house for candidates -- young women thinking about becoming nuns. About 20 women reside at the convent.

Dean Krone, a lawyer for Stone Park, which is also named in the nuns' lawsuit, said that Cook County actually has a 1 mile (1.6 km) restriction, but maintains that the distance does not matter due to the restriction's unconstitutionality. He noted that the restriction would prohibit strip clubs throughout Cook County and that would be a violation of the free speech.

The lawyer for the nuns, Peter Breen, sees it a bit differently.

"The Sisters have every right to pray and work peacefully without disruption from a strip club in their backyard," he said in a statement.

Breen, who is also vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society, a non-profit law firm that usually handles pro-life and abortion issues cases, told Christian Newswire, "Strip clubs don't belong next to convents and single-family homes," said Peter Breen, .

According to the Chicago Tribune, the fight over the strip club's location has been ongoing for two years. The Village Board of Stone Park actually denied the intial proposal to build Club Allure in 2009.

Club Allure's website advertises the establishment as “Chicago's Premier Adult Playground.”

Robert Itzkow, an owner of the strip club who once was the attorney for the owners, has said that the battle is about morals, not lights and noise. It is an "ideological dispute," he says.

Itzkow says the building is soundproofed and all lights are located at the club's front so as not to be too much of a distraction to its neighbors. He added that the club is beside a container yard and a recycling dump and is in an area zoned for adult entertainment in a suburban area known for strip clubs. He also noted that the Club Allure has been a general boon to the immediate area, replacing vacant warehouses and generating jobs and tax revenue.

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