Nuns file lawsuit to close Stone Park strip club
BY FRANCINE KNOWLES Religion Reporter June 16, 2014 4:48PM
The exterior of the gentleman's club on Lake Street in Stone Park. I ~Sun-Times
Updated: July 18, 2014 6:20AM
A group of nuns, protesting a strip club adjacent to its convent in Stone Park, slapped the village and the club with a suit that seeks to yank the curtain down on the business.
The suit claims Club Allure Chicago violates Illinois zoning law, which mandates a 1,000-foot buffer zone between adult entertainment facilities and any place of worship or school.
Since Club Allure opened in September, the Sisters of St. Charles have had to put up with “public violence, drunkenness and litter, including … empty whiskey and beer bottles, discarded contraceptive packages and products and even used condoms evidencing illicit sexual misbehavior either in the club or about its environs,” the suit alleges.
The nuns also have endured “pulsating and rhythmic staccato-beat noise and flashing neon and or strobe lights that impair the sisters’ and others’ peaceful use and enjoyment of their neighboring properties,” the suit contends.
The suit also claims the sisters were never notified of Stone Park’s hearing to rezone the property, denying them due process.
The sisters’ property includes three chapels, a home for retired nuns, a convent, their midwestern headquarters, and a school for training new candidates to become members of the Roman Catholic congregation.
The Village of Melrose Park, which borders Stone Park, and three residents of Melrose Park are joining the nuns in the suit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court.
The sisters have a right to pray and work peacefully without disruption from a strip club in their backyard, contends Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society, which filed the suit.
Sister Noemia Silva, who resides at the convent, said she’s “appalled” that Stone Park rezoned the property to allow the strip club to open.
“Our sisters’ sacred space has been invaded,” she said. “At night now they hear the music when they’re praying. That’s uncalled for.
“You look at the children who go to school in the area, they have to pass thhough here in front of the convent and there’s whiskey bottles and what have you broken.”
Stone Park Village Attorney Dean Krone said: “It’s a difficult situation, and it has a long history. I think that it’s unfortunate that the circumstances are what they are, but I believe that the village has acted both legally and reasonable under all circumstances.”
The village previously told the Chicago Sun-Times that before the project was approved it mistakenly sent notice of a public hearing held on the rezoning to the sisters, but at the wrong address because Cook County property records were apparently wrong.
Prior to the club’s opening, Stone Park Mayor Benjamino Mazzulla told the Chicago Sun-Times he wasn’t “a big fan” of the project and only signed on to settle a lawsuit filed by the developers against the village in 2010.
The suit also names Robert Itzkow, stating he was the owner and manager but is now believed to be a part-owner and manager. He did not return a call for comment. But he previously said the project “followed the letter and spirit of the law.”
The suit also names Get It Entertainment doing business as Get It and/or Club Allure and/or Club Allure Chicago.