June 21, 2018
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Milbridge Planning Board to consider regulating strip shows

By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

MILBRIDGE, Maine — Next week’s meeting of the Milbridge Planning Board is expected to include a discussion of the need to regulate public performances by strippers.

Concerns were raised after The Pines restaurant and bar on Route 1A hosted a Dec. 7, 2012, strip show that included total nudity.

The performance attracted 160 people, who each paid a $10 cover charge. Owner Steven Teegarden later termed the show an “exception” to the musical acts he books for the venue, saying that it was requested by his patrons. No one under age 21 was allowed into The Pines during the performance and the windows were covered, he said.

After post-performance concerns surfaced within the Washington County fishing community, Teegarden said there would be no more strip shows at The Pines, which is located about two miles northeast of the town center.

Nonetheless, Town Manager Lewis Pinkham contacted the Maine Municipal Association for guidance and was advised to review ordinances now in place in Ellsworth and Bar Harbor. He did, obtaining copies that he plans to bring to the Feb. 21 planning board meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the town office on School Street.

The existing Bar Harbor ordinance is spelled out in a chapter of the city code titled “adult businesses.” The measures included, the chapter states, are designed to regulate “nudity as a form of commercial exploitation and to regulate dress as a form of conduct [that] the community and Town Council have clearly found to be offensive to the general welfare, public safety, order and morals of the Town of Bar Harbor and its citizens.”

The ordinance specifically prohibits both male and female strippers from exposing their genitals, pubic hair and buttocks. It also prohibits exposure of any portion of the female breast at or below the areola, the area that surrounds the nipple.

The Bar Harbor ordinance does not apply to theatrical performances nor to movie screenings.

Fines in Bar Harbor for violating the regulations can be as high as $500 plus costs, with each day of violation constituting a separate offense.

Buried within its special amusement permit ordinance, Ellsworth’s regulations on public performances by strippers are virtually identical to those in place in Bar Harbor. Ellsworth’s penalties, however, are stricter than Bar Harbor’s, with fines of up to $1,000 and jail time up to 30 days, or both.

Given that Teegarden says he has no intention of staging another strip show and that other public venues in Milbridge have no performance space, does Pinkham consider regulating strippers an issue?

“It may not be,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve also been reviewing ordinances on wind and cell towers. You don’t know when you might need them.”

Selectman Al Beal said Wednesday he hasn’t given a moment’s thought to whether a public nudity ordinance is necessary.

“I was hoping to let sleeping dogs lie, and that this whole thing would just go away,” Beal said.

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