ELIOT, Maine — About 250 residents packed the gymnasium benches and filled rows of chairs at the Marshwood Middle School on Saturday night in approval of a moratorium to postpone the application process for a proposed strip club in town.
“I am 100 percent opposed to something like that in my town,” said resident Susan Casey.
She said she moved to Eliot 12 years ago to raise her children in a safe environment and feels the opening of a strip club raises concerns.
“I just think it’s ridiculous to build something like that here,” she said.
During a vote that took less than 15 minutes, Eliot residents voted unanimously to block approval for six months of a facility looking to showcase nude dancing. Officials want to better understand the implications of such an establishment and work on ordinances that would regulate it.
Donald DeNunzio, of DeNunzio Realty LLC, has submitted an application to the town’s Planning Board to turn a former day care facility at 403 Route 236 — a building he owns — into a gentleman’s club which would feature partially- and fully-nude dancers.
The town has proposed two ordinances which govern any business or individual looking to bring nude entertainment into Eliot.
Selectmen Chairman Roland Ferland said the moratorium will give the town time to evaluate studies about distance requirements from schools and secondary effects of a strip club.
“It’s very complicated, because they have rights, too,” he said of the proposal. “So we have to make sure that we have time to look into everything.”
Ferland said he doesn’t believe the studies will take six months to complete and said by the next Board of Selectmen meeting on June 18, he hopes to have answers for residents.
“We’re not going to rush this,” he said. “We want to do it right.”
Eliot resident Tina Pike said it doesn’t belong in the town.
“This is important to me because I have children here and it’s a good community,” she said. “I feel it’s not an appropriate thing for my children to be around.”