Snohomish County on Thursday issued a preliminary license denial for a strip club a local businessman wanted to open along Mukilteo Speedway. No nude club has operated in the county since Honey's on Highway 99 south of Everett was shut down in 2010 after a federal investigation.
The county denied Robert Noriega's application because two restaurants across the street serve alcohol. County code doesn't allow strip clubs to be within 660 feet of schools, churches, parks, youth centers or any establishments that sell alcohol by the drink.
"There are two businesses, specifically restaurants, in the business park located at 10924 Mukilteo Speedway that are well within the 660 feet," of the proposed club, county licensing manager Vicki Lubrin said. "Therefore, this business is located too close."
The recommendation for the denial came from planning staff earlier this week. The club would be in the county's unincorporated area, just outside Mukilteo city limits.
Noriega still has 10 days to respond to the licensing denial, stating any reasons he thinks the preliminary decision was made in error. After weighing any new information, the county auditor can issue a final decision. After that, Noriega has the option of filing an appeal with the hearing examiner.
"We plan on appealing it and filing a lawsuit if necessary," Noriega said Thursday.
The appeal process is the same for any county-issued business license, whether it's a dog kennel, pawnbroker or an adult business.
Noriega applied earlier this month to open Black Pearl at 10809 Mukilteo Speedway under rules for adult entertainment dance studios. The business would occupy the same building as the Pointe After, a card room that Noriega closed recently. Now, he's operating a bikini bar there.
People in Mukilteo rallied against the strip club idea and started a Facebook page. They said Black Pearl would be too close to churches, the Mukilteo branch of the YMCA and schools, though all of those facilities sit well outside the buffer for strip clubs spelled out in county code.
County Executive Aaron Reardon urged the County Council to adopt more restrictive rules for adult businesses, though any such changes would have had no effect on a pending adult-business application.
Early this week, news dribbled out on the opponents' Facebook page that the application had been denied, though the official decision didn't come until Thursday. That included a post purported to relay news from the county councilman whose district covers the area.
"The rumor is confirmed -- just got an email from Brian Sullivan -- the license application has been denied by the county!" Sandy Kaduce posted at 10:29 p.m. Monday.
Noriega called the way information leaked out before the official decision "unprofessional."
"They've been working together to deny us on whatever ground they could," he said.
Noriega said the community has been fixated on his casino business and his plans to open a strip club, while turning a blind eye to teen drug use.
He said he would start donating half of his profits from his business, whether a bikini bar or a strip club, to fight youth drug addiction.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; email@example.com.
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