A 24-hour strip club has opened in Opa-locka, apparently in violation of city ordinance, setting off heavy debate among citizens and politicians.
Officials say Klub 24 violates the city’s nudity, theatrical and night club hours of operation laws. It was never approved by the Planning Council or the City Commission, but yet the owner obtained a 90-day Temporary Certificate of Occupancy last month from the city’s Building and Licensing Department.
The matter was a hot topic at the Feb. 15 City Commission meeting.
“Yes, I’ve been here longer than anyone on this dais. Yes, I know what’s going on in this community,” said Opa-locka Commissioner Timothy Holmes. “Yes, from what I can recall, no paperwork was in front of me. I didn’t see not one time, anything with Klub 24.”
On Feb. 12, City Attorney Vincent T. Brown issued a 38-page report, which concluded that the business’ operation in the city is unlawful.
His report states “that Klub 24 cannot operate an adult entertainment business at its current location without seeking a special exception from the Planning Council and City Commission.”
Included in the report were three letters from Director of Planning and Community Development Gregory Gay, advising applicant Eddie Dean to apply for a special exemption in order to comply with the city. The letters span from January 2016 through January 2017.
The property is described as a nine-bay retail/restaurant building, which is approximately 14,000 square feet and sits on a 60,000-square-foot lot with 49 parking spaces. Klub 24 opened on Jan .17 at 3699 NW 135th St., a mile and half away from the Opa-Locka Executive Airport and half a mile away from a charter school, after receiving a TCO as a restaurant, lounge and cabaret.
A memo issued by Gay on Jan. 30 to Brown notes a TCO was issued by the Building and Licensing Department without the completion of all reviews, inspections and required permits.
At the commission meeting, Opa-locka Commissioner Matthew Pigatt proposed that City Manager Ed Brown provide a report on how the business was able to open and operate.
“This is illegal, and during our last meeting we as a commission voted unanimously to direct our city manager to remove all illegal operations,” said Pigatt. “How did an adult entertainment establishment that violates so many of our laws receive a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy?” He asked.
Based on Opa-locka law, “no nightclub or owner, operator or employee thereof shall admit customers to its premises, nor sell, serve, offer to sell, allow to be consumed or delivered” alcoholic beverages between the hours of 5 a.m and 11 a.m. on weekdays and between the hours of 5 a.m and 5 p.m on Sundays.
It is also a violation of the city’s law for anyone who owns an “alcoholic beverage establishment’ to permit total or partial nudity on the premises and unlawful to have entertainment after 10 p.m.
However, Ed Brown said Klub 24 did not happen on his watch.
“Basically Klub 24 had a license two years ago and that was signed off by two previous managers. I don’t know how Klub 24 become my situation. I have nothing to do with that,” he said.
The city manager also said that according to the city’s charter, the commission has the authority to revoke any business license that is issued.
Under the city’s code, no license can be issued unless the applicant files a form with the city manager with a sworn statement. But the manager argued that since the TCO was already issued, it was best to let the certificate run its course and allow the business owner time to meet the requirements within that time.
“The city manager does not have the right to revoke a license. The city manager does not have the right to approve a license, it goes through a process,” said Ed Brown. “If anyone wants to know what the outcome of this could be it lies in the hands of this commission.”
The TCO for Klub 24 expires on April 20. After 90 days, the owner still has to meet the city’s requirements to get a license.
According to Dean, his initial request for a business license was approved by former City Manager Yvette Harrell. He said that there is an exemption within the city ordinance for cabarets, however, a search for “cabaret” in the municipal code library did not bring back any results.
“I don’t understand what games are going on here. We are aware that this has been going on for a while within the city since they are believing we haven’t done what we are supposed to do, but for two and a half years we fought for our license,” he said.
Dean showed a folder that he said contained paperwork that proved that he did things legally, but he failed to respond to numerous requests to show the documentation or tell his side of the story.
Both Pigatt and Vincent Brown said they questioned the validity of documents filed with the city. They said correction fluid was used on several documents.
“When you look at the documents chronologically, there was a license issued in January 2016 or 2017, depending on who you ask because on the letter that was issued by the building licensing clerk, the six was scratched out and made a seven,” said Vincent Brown.
The attorney was interrupted by Dean, who called him a liar. Dean was then escorted out by an Opa-locka police officer.
This story was originally published in The Miami Times Feb. 21, 2018.