Strip Club: Development order application OK’d, but hurdles remain

Matt Algarin

With litigation still pending in regard to the proposed strip club along Airport Road, the city's technical review team has approved the group’s development order application.

"It's been approved with conditions," Community Development Director Ken Gallander told The Log Thursday morning. "No development order has been issued though."

The approval of the development order application is based on it meeting conditions of the city's land development code, not the settlement agreement that was approved in 2010 with the late Terry Stephenson after a First Amendment lawsuit.

In an Oct. 18 letter to representatives from the proposed strip club, Gallander, on behalf of the city, lists 12 conditions that must be met before a final development order could be issued.

One of the major items that must be addressed is the pending litigation. The letter reads "No operations may be commenced pursuant to the settlement agreement, specifically in regard to operations which are allowed by the agreement but not allowed under ordinance No. 09-06-LC, until such time as a court of competent jurisdiction has issued a ruling determining that the applicant has the legal right to conduct operations pursuant to the settlement agreement, or unless the parties otherwise agree in writing that such operations may commence."

Essentially, the city is still waiting for clarification from a judge as to whether or not the current applicants have the ability to open the club under the settlement agreement. For months, the city has had concern with how the applicants were able to obtain ownership after the death of Stephenson, who was killed outside his Atlanta strip club.

In turn, the applicants have filed a federal lawsuit against the city asking for a judge to basically force the city to work through the application process, which has been put on hold.

The next step for the applicants would be to submit seven sets of plans, which will be sent to a variety of people, such as the city's building division, Destin Water Users, the Destin Fire Control District and the city's planning and public services departments.

Despite this initial approval, don't expect to see construction begin for the time being.

"They are not quite there yet," Gallander said. "A building permit still has to be obtained. Until we issue that final development orders they cannot do any type of construction."