Federal appeals court considering whether northeastern Indiana city wrongly blocked strip club

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ANGOLA, Indiana — A federal appeals court is considering whether northeastern Indiana city officials acted improperly when they prevented a couple from opening a strip club.

Attorneys for the city of Angola and the couple, Alva and Sandra Butler, presented oral arguments before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Tuesday.

A federal judge in January upheld the rezoning decision that prevented the club from opening in a space once occupied by a restaurant in the 9,000-person city about 40 miles north of Fort Wayne, The Herald-Republican reported (http://bit.ly/1tbAi6s ).

Matt Hoffer, an attorney for the Butlers, argued the City Council wrongly changed the zoning rules to prevent the business from opening.

"When the plaintiff actually announced their intent to open in town, rather than have the calm that comes with being prepared, the city of Angola went into a panic," Hoffer said.

City attorney Scott Bergthold said when the city changed its zoning ordinance in 2008, allowing adult businesses in commercial zones, it failed to include buffer distances. When the city revised the zoning ordinance in November 2012, it put adult businesses back into industrial zones and added 750-foot buffer requirements from any property containing a residence.

Bergthold said the city acted properly in regulating adult businesses to protect residential areas.

The appeals court didn't say when it would release a decision.

The Butlers own the Showgirl III strip club in Fort Wayne.

Information from: Herald Republican, http://www.heraldrepublicanonline.com/

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