Soldotna council: No stripping after midnight

Posted: Friday, June 30, 2006

Stripping must stop at midnight.

That is the result of inaction by the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday night in apparent support of Mayor Dave Carey’s first veto of a council decision.

Two weeks ago the council approved an ordinance that would have allowed Good Time Charlie’s to continue running its strip club operation until 5 a.m.

Last year, upon learning an adult book store planned to open in Soldotna, a crowd of objectors came to the city and the council passed a law requiring adult businesses in the city to be closed between midnight and 9 a.m.

Charlie’s owner Charles Cunningham sought relief from the new law, saying his patrons did not start arriving until 11 p.m.

The club, on the eastern edge of the city, has operated as a bar and strip club for 34 years.

The new ordinance, introduced by council member Ed Sleater, would have extended the hours of operation of adult businesses for existing businesses with liquor licenses. Charlie’s is the only such business in Soldotna.

The council passed the ordinance on a 5-to-1 vote June 14, and Carey said he planned to veto it.

In a letter to the council, Carey said, “I greatly respect each member of the Soldotna City Council and the process we have followed during my five years as mayor.

“This is the first time I have cast a veto, and I do not do so easily,” he said.

Commenting on the crowd of citizens who filled the council chambers when the adult-business law was first being considered, Carey said the public sentiment “was overwhelmingly in favor” of the regulation.

“I believe the sentiment of the community was very clear regarding adult-oriented businesses and has not changed,” he said.

The council had the authority to override the mayor’s veto with a two-thirds majority vote Wednesday, however no one commented on the veto.

No members of the public testified about the proposed change in the law, but during a public comment period later, resident Jim Fassler commended the mayor for his veto and commended the council members for not overriding it, saying the strip club “is a bad picture out there for people coming into our community.”

The adult-oriented business ordinance stands as it was passed last year. Such businesses must be closed between midnight and 9 a.m.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Carey said only the adult business section of Charlie’s must close at midnight. The bar may continue to operate as allowed by its liquor license, until 5 a.m.

In other Soldotna City Council business...

· During the public presentation portion of the meeting, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michelle Glaves announced that Norm and Barb Blakeley were named king and queen of the upcoming Progress Days celebration and City Manager Tom Boedeker was selected to be the parade’s grand marshal.

The parade is scheduled for July 22 and the city picnic is July 23. This year the parade will start at Soldotna High School.

· The council approved a resolution creating a job description for a community schools and recreational programs coordinator.

The city officially takes over the Community Schools Program from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in July.

The coordinator position would be in a salary range from $33,043 to $55,564. Carmen Triana, who coordinated the program for the school district, would remain in the role for the city, according to City Manager Tom Boedeker.

· The council approved $340,690 for the repair the roof of the Soldotna Sports Center. Boedeker said he hoped to get the project out for bid in time to have repairs complete before winter.

· A $317,000 contract was awarded to Peninsula Construction to complete a handicap access and erosion control project for the Soldotna Creek Kenai River trail. A ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the new elevated riverside walkway between the creek and Binkley Circle is being planned for Thursday when federal officials are in Soldotna for the Kenai River Classic.

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