Minneapolis set to reject topless bar because it's too close to church

3 Degrees Church said the proposed adult entertainment venue was within 500 feet of its home.
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What's happening?

A Minneapolis City Council committee dealt a blow to a nightclub owner's plan to open a topless bar in the Warehouse District on Thursday.

Peter Hafiz was given approval earlier this month by the city's zoning board of adjustment to open a "Topless Tap House" at 415 1st Ave. N., formerly the Imperial Room.

But a ruling at the city's zoning and planning committee meeting on Thursday went against him, putting his plans in doubt.

What changed?

After the zoning board's decision earlier this month, the nondenominational 3 Degrees Church, at nearby 119 N. 4th St., appealed.

Pastors Steve and Nancy Aleksuk said that because of the proposed bar's proximity to its church, it falls foul of city ordinances prohibiting businesses with "sexually oriented use" from being within 500 feet of a religious institution place of assembly.

But attorneys argued to the city on behalf of Hafiz that because 3 Degrees Church is located in a commercial building that also houses a radio station and a Pizza Luce, that it didn't qualify for the 500-foot buffer afforded to other religious buildings.

It also noted the church applied in 2003 for a permit to operate as a non-alcoholic nightclub, though it has ended that model and registered as a religious nonprofit a decade ago.

The zoning and planning committee disagreed however, according to city council documents, finding in favor of the church.

What happens now?

The debate isn't over yet, the recommendation of the planning and zoning commission will be sent to the full city council for a decision on the venue.

Speaking to the Star Tribune, Nancy Aleksuk said they're not against people who go to adult entertainment bars.

"Just like we respect their right to operate and exist, we just are asking for that same right and respect toward our congregation members," she said.

Hafiz is a major play in the Minneapolis nightclub market, with strip clubs Dream Girls and Deja Vu among his businesses, CityPages reports.

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