A small group of protesters led by nuns from a west suburban convent gathered today to denounce a strip club they say has brought chaos to their neighborhood and never should have been allowed to open.
Standing near the entrance of Club Allure in Stone Park, Sister Noemia Silva of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo said they hoped to show village leaders that they would not back down from their effort to have the club closed.
“Allure devalues and degrades our community and goes against every fiber of our community,” Silva said.
In a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court last week, The Missionary Sisters alleged the club has invaded their peace with the glare of blinking neon lights and loud music. The nuns added that they have found condoms littering the area around the establishment and have seen a number of alcohol-fueled fights take place outside the club.
The suit names both Club Allure and the Village of Stone Park as defendants. It claims the club violates state law which prohibits adult entertainment businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a school or place of worship.
Part of the convent is in the neighboring village of Melrose Park, also a plaintiff in the suit. The convent is home to about 20 women, and includes three chapels and holds Sunday services open to the public, according to attorney Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, which is representing the convent.
An attorney for Stone Park, which has a reputation for being a strip club-friendly town, said the law is overly broad and would essentially rule out any area in the village for use as an adult entertainment venue.
The march today and last week’s suit are just the latest salvos in a long-running dispute that initially pitted the village against the owners of the club. When the village board blocked Club Allure’s owners from opening a different club on the same site in 2009, the owners sued and the village settled the case by allowing them to open the current club.That prompted outrage from the nuns and residents who live near the club, but one of the owners of the club said the dispute is less about noise and lights than it is about moral viewpoints.
“I do understand why they don’t like us,” said Sean O’Brien, the club’s managing partner. “We have different ideologies about how things should go, about how life should be lived.”
But he said that his business is not causing the nuisance the protesters describe.
“I certainly can’t tell you that there lying – I would never say that,” O’Brien said. “But they’re incorrect in thinking that would be coming from us.”