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January 29, 1999 

Kipp Whaley has waged war over nudity before, and the owner of the proposed Emerald City strip club promised Thursday to open a no-surrender court fight if the county tries to ban his brand of entertainment in Charlotte Harbor.
``It's legal, I've received permission, and the doors will be open on April 1,'' Whaley said of the nude bar planned for 4535 Tamiami Trail, in the former Fat Boy's Barbecue building. ``I've been through this a hundred times before. If they want to go to court, I'll win.'' Whaley's remarks came after a handful of citizens protested the planned bar Thursday at a meeting of the Charlotte Harbor Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Committee. The building stands within the Charlotte Harbor redevelopment zone, and the bar plan brought stiff rebukes from residents and agency members who fear that the club will hurt the neighborhood.
``We don't need that kind of thing in our area,'' said Viola DeVries, who runs a day care business out of her home on Harper Ave., not far from the club site. ``I take care of 10 kids, and all the parents are concerned.''
Community Development Director Elliot Kampert said he'll ask for a ruling on whether the day care business qualifies as a school under county code. If so, the 1,000-foot distance requirement would apply, and could shut the club down.
Otherwise, Kampert said, Emerald City meets the requirement for a minimum distance of 1,000 feet from churches, schools and park playgrounds, and has received its occupational license. To date, no permit has been issued for remodeling. The planned renovation work will come under Community Redevelopment Agency architectural guidelines requiring an ``old Florida'' look for the facade.
Whaley, a 31-year-old Port Charlotte resident, owns two adult video stores: Port Charlotte and a Venice locations of ``Exclusive Video.'' He holds a long-term lease on the Fat Boy's building and says the club will employ about 50 people.
Four nights a week, Emerald City will serve beer and wine, and will feature clothed, but scantily clad dancers. Three nights a week, the bar will close and the dancers will bare all. State and local laws prohibit strip clubs from serving alcoholic beverages.
Commissioner Frank Weikel suggested the county should pass new zoning rules creating an adult entertainment district in order to keep strip clubs out of residential neighborhoods and the U.S. 41 corridor. He hinted that a legal challenge to the bar was forthcoming.
``We're working on something,'' said Weikel, ``and if he wants to go to court, I hope he's feeling confident.''
Whaley said he's ready.

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